First aid at work

Borders Machinery Ring Limited

First aid at work


The Health & Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 set out the essential aspects of first aid that employers have to address. 

HSE provide Guidance on Regulations to help employers understand and comply with the Regulations and offers practical advice on what they need to do. Employers may also find it useful to look at HSE's 'First aid at work' web pages. 

Extracts from this HSE Guidance on Regulation publication read;

Employers have a legal duty to make arrangements to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work. It doesn't matter whether the injury or illness is caused by the work they do, what is important is that they receive immediate attention and that an amulance is called in serious cases. First aid can save lives and prevent minor injuries becoming major ones.  (P8)

An employer should make an assessment of first-aid needs appropriate to the circumstances (hazards and risks) of each workplace.

The following optional four-layer framework illustrates levels of first-aid provision:

First-aid provision must be 'adequate and appropriate in the circumstances'. Guidance on assessing the workplace needs is found on P9-16. 

Where an employer provides first-aiders in the workplace, they should ensure they have undertaken suitable training, have an appropriate first-aid qualification and remain competent to perform their role. (P9)

If an employer, after carrying out a needs assessment, decides a first-aider is not required in the workplace, a person should be appointed to take charge of the first-aid arrangements. The role of this appointed person (AP) includes looking after the first-aid equipment and facilities and calling the emergency services when required. (P9)

Record keeping is found on P16 and advises keeping a record book with details of:

  • date, time and place of incident
  • name & job of the injured or ill person
  • details of the injury/illness and what first aid was given
  • what happended to the person immediately afterwards (for example, went back to work, went home, went to hospital)
  • name and signature of the first-aider or person dealing with the incident

This information can help the employer 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. These records may also be helpful for insurance and investigative purposes. 

There is a duty on employers to report certain incidents to HSE under RIDDOR-Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurences Regulations 2013. Please refer to

First-aid personnel

Where the first-aid assessment identifies a need for people to be available for rendering first aid, the employer should ensure that they are provided in sufficient numbers and at appropriate locations to enable first aid to be adminsistered without delay should the occasion arise. 

First-aid training

An employer can obtain appropriate training from many sources including

  • training centres for an awarding organisation (AO). These provide 'regulated qualifications' which are recognised by qualification regulators (Ofqual, SQA or the Welsh Government). Regulators stipulate that AOs and their training centres must work in compliance with the Assessment Principles for First Aid Qualifications (which can be found on the Skills for Health website
  • Voluntary Aid Societies (St John Ambulance, British Red Cross and St Andrew's First Aid) who together are acknowledged by HSE as one of the standard-setters for currently accepted first-aid practice
  • training providers affiliated to other voluntary accredation schemes. These need to deliver training with appropriate content (see Guidance Appendices 5 FAW & 6 EFAW ), use suitable trainers and assessors, and have relevant and robust quality assurance systems in place. All training providers should be able and prepared to demonstrate how they satisfy these criteria. 

Training organisations should use training materials, and teach the first-aid management of injuries and illness, as covered in FAW/EFAW training courses (Guidance P34-35) and in accordance with:

  • current guidlines published by the Resuscitation Council (UK); and 
  • the current editon of the first-aid maunal of the Voluntary Aid Societies (St John Amulance, British Red Cross, St Andrew's First Aid); or 
  • other published guidelines, provied they are in line with the two above or supported by a responsible body of medical opinion.


For an individual to demonstrate they have a competencin in first aid they will hold a certificate that contains the following

  • name of training organisation
  • name of qualification
  • name of individual
  • a validity period for three years from date of course completion
  • an indication that the certificate has been issued for the purposes of complying with the requirements of the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981
  • a statement that teaching was delivered in accordance with currently accepted first-aid practice
  • if the qualification is neither FAW nor EFAW, an outline of the topics covered

Certificate validity, requalification and refresher training

All first-aid training certificates, whether FAW, EFAW or some other appropriate training, are valid for three years. Employers need to arrange retraining before certificates expire. HSE strongly recommends that first-aiders undertake annual refresher training during any three-year FAW/EFAW certification period. Employers should also encourage first-aiders to regularly review their course manual and any other instructional materials and allocate them time to do this. 

Information for employees

First-aid arrangements operate efficiently in an emergency only where everyone in the workplace is aware of them, and understands and accepts them. One way to achieve this is to develop procedures for informing staff in consultation with employees or safety representatives. Inclusion in staff induction training ensures new employees are made aware of arrangements. 

Duties of self-employed persons

Self-employed persons must arrange for provision of first-aid as per risk assessment (P24)

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