Frequently asked questions

First Aid

Do I need a qualified first-aider in the workplace?


The number of first-aiders you will require will depend on your company Risk Assessment. When considering the number of first-aiders you need you will need to take into consideration the following.

  • the nature of the work you do
  • workplace hazards and risks (including specific hazards requiring special arrangements)
  • the nature and size of your workforce
  • the work patterns of your staff
  • holiday and other absences of those who will be first-aiders and appointed persons
  • your organisation’s history of accidents
  • You may also need to consider:
  • the needs of travelling, remote and lone workers
  • the distribution of your workforce
  • the remoteness of any of your sites from emergency medical services
  • whether your employees work on shared or multi-occupancy sites
  • first-aid provision for non-employees (eg members of the public).
Further information can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/l74.pdf#page=9




What is the role of an Approinted Person?


When an employer's first-aid needs assessment indicates that a first-aider is unnecessary, the minimum requirement is to appoint a person to take charge of first-aid arrangements. The roles of this appointed person include looking after the first-aid equipment and facilities and calling the emergency services when required. They can also provide emergency cover, within their role and competence, where a first-aider is absent due to unforeseen circumstances (annual leave does not count). Do appointed persons need to undertake first-aid training? To fulfil their role, appointed persons do not need first-aid training. However, emergency first-aid training courses are available.




Do I need an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)?


Health and safety legislation does not require you to have an automated external defibrillator (AED) in your workplace. Where an employer has identified through their needs assessment that they wish to provide an AED in the workplace, then the Provision and Use of Workplace Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) apply. For the purpose of complying with PUWER in these situations, the employer should provide information and written instructions, for example from the AED’s manufacturer, on how to use it. However, fuller training is likely to make the user more confident and is now an integral part of the syllabus for FAW and EFAW courses.




What should my first aid kit contain?


The decision on what to provide will be influenced by the findings of the first-aid needs assessment. As a guide, where work activities involve low hazards, a minimum stock of first-aid items might be:

  • a leaflet giving general guidance on first aid (for example, HSE's leaflet Basic advice on first aid at work);
  • individually wrapped sterile plasters (assorted sizes), appropriate to the type of work (hypoallergenic plasters can be provided if necessary);
  • sterile eye pads;
  • individually wrapped triangular bandages, preferably sterile;
  • safety pins;
  • large sterile individually wrapped unmedicated wound dressings;
  • medium-sized sterile individually wrapped unmedicated wound dressings;
  • disposable gloves (for advice on latex gloves please see Selecting latex gloves)
This is only a suggested contents list. Employers may wish to refer to British Standard BS 8599-1 which provides further information on the contents of workplace first-aid kits. Whether using a first-aid kit complying with BS 8599-1 or an alternative kit, the contents should reflect the outcome of the first-aid needs assessment. It is recommended that you don't keep tablets and medicines in the first-aid box.




How often should the contents of first-aid boxes be replaced?


Although there is no specified review timetable, many items, particularly sterile ones, are marked with expiry dates. They should be replaced by the dates given and expired items disposed of safely. In cases where sterile items have no dates, it would be advisable to check with the manufacturers to find out how long they can be kept. For non-sterile items without dates, it is a matter of judgement, based on whether they are fit for purpose.




What first aid equipment should I supply?


Once an assessment of first-aid needs has been carried out, the findings can be used to decide what first-aid equipment should be provided in the workplace. The minimum requirement is a suitably stocked first-aid box, see FAQ 'First-aid box'. The assessment may indicate that additional materials and equipment are required such as scissors, hypoallergenic microrpous adhesive tape, disposable aprons and individually wrapped, moist wipes. They may be put in the first-aid box or stored separately. If mains tap water is not readily available for eye irrigation, at least one litre of sterile water or sterile normal saline (0.9%) in sealed, disposable containers should be provided. When the seal has been broken, containers should not be kept for reuse. Containers should also not be used beyond their expiry date.




Do I need to make first-aid provision for members of the public?


The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 do not require employers to provide first aid for members of the public. However, many organisations such as schools, places of entertainment, fairgrounds and shops provide a service for others. HSE strongly recommends that employers include the public in their first-aid needs assessment and make provision for them.




I have employees who travel regularly or work elsewhere, what should I do about first-aid provision for them?


Employers are responsible for meeting the first-aid needs of their employees working away from the main site. The assessment of first-aid needs should determine whether:

  • those who travel long distances or are continuously mobile should carry a personal first-aid box; and
  • employees should be issued with personal communicators/mobile phones.




Can legal action be taken against first-aiders?


It is very unlikely that any action would be taken against a first-aider using the first-aid training they have received. We cannot give any specific advice on this issue as it does not fall within our powers. It is recommended that you seek legal advice, or advice from your employer's insurance brokers on whether their policies cover first-aiders' liability.




Are first-aiders allowed to give tablets and medication to casualties?


First aid at work does not include giving tablets or medicines to treat illness. The only exception to this is where aspirin is used when giving first aid to a casualty with a suspected heart attack, in accordance with currently accepted first-aid practice. It is recommended that tablets and medicines should not be kept in the first-aid box. Some workers carry their own medication that has been prescribed by their doctor (eg an inhaler for asthma). If an individual needs to take their own prescribed medication, the first-aider's role is generally limited to helping them to do so and contacting the emergency services as appropriate. However, this does not apply to the administration of prescription only medication specified in Schedule 19 of the Medicines Regulations 2012, where this is for the purpose of saving life in an emergency. Adrenaline 1:1000 up to 1 mg for intramuscular use in anaphylaxis is an example. Where a first aid needs assessment identifies that Schedule 19 medication may be required to be administered in an emergency, the employer should consider providing workplace first aiders with additional training in their use.




Do I need to record incidents requiring the attention of a first-aider?


It is good practice to provide your first-aiders and appointed persons with a book in which to record incidents they attend. The information can help you identify accident trends and possible areas for improvement in the control of health and safety risks. It can be used for reference in future first-aid needs assessments. The record book is not the same as the statutory accident book though the two might be combined. Employers, self-employed people and those in control of premises have a duty to report some accidents and incidents at work under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR). Further information is given at RIDDOR. What information should be recorded?

  • the date, time and place of the incident;
  • the name and job of the injured or ill person;
  • details of the injury/illness and what first aid was given;
  • details about what happened to the person immediately afterwards (eg went back to work, went home, went to hospital); and
  • the name and signature of the first-aider or person dealing with the incident.
  • Useful information to record includes:
Who is responsible for keeping the records? It is usually the first-aider or appointed person who looks after the book. However, employers have overall responsibility.




What are the first aid legislative requirements?


The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1982 Requires employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work. These regulations apply to all workplaces including those with less than five employees and to the self-employed. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 Employers have a responsibility for the health and safety of their employees. They are also responsible for any visitors to the premises such as customers, suppliers and the general public. RIDDOR - Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurences Regulations (current Regulations) RIDDOR places duties on employers, the self employed and people in control of work premises (the Responsible Person) to report serious workplace accidents, occupational diseases and specified dangerous occurences (near misses) in line with current legislation. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 The main requirement on employers is to carry out a concise risk assessment of the workplace. Employers with five or more employees need to record the significant findings of the risk assessment. The risk assessment will assist the employers in determining the first-aid provision and requirements within the workplace. Further information can be found on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website www.hse.gov.uk





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COVID-19

How can I improve the safety of my staff returning to work?


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