First Aid in the Workplace

  • Health & Safety
two men on a warehouse floor in hard hats, one is holding his knee
Peninsula Logo

Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

In this guide we'll discuss what first aid in the workplace is, your legal requirements, and what first aid arrangements you need to have in place.

As an employer, the Health & Safety of your employees should be one of your main priorities. It's your legal responsibility to handle their health and wellbeing whilst they're at work.

To help ensure this you must have a competent Health & Safety policy, including how you'll manage first aid at work. Failure to follow legislation could lead to injuries, heavy compensation claims, and even employment tribunal hearings.

In this guide we'll discuss what first aid in the workplace is, your legal requirements, and what first aid arrangements you need to have in place.

What is first aid at work?

First aid at work is the medical attention provided to someone after suffering an accident, injury, or sudden illness.

First aid is emergency treatment is given before professional help is available. To ensure it's administered properly, you need to ensure your employees have the right guidance and training.

What are the legal requirements for first aid in the workplace?

There are several legal requirements employers must follow for first aid in the workplace. Under the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, employers are: "required to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, first aid facilities and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they're injured or taken ill at work".

In essence, all employers are responsible for ensuring employees receive appropriate first aid when needed. These regulations apply to all workplaces throughout the UK, including those with less than five employees.

This legislation doesn't put a legal duty on the employer to assess the first aid needs for non-employees, for example, the general public. But the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) strongly recommends you include them in yours.

What is a first aid assessment?

A first aid assessment reviews the needs of your first aid in the workplace. They ensure you have the correct first aid provision in your workplace to best manage injuries or illness.

Under UK law, all employers are legally obliged to assess first aid requirements. Not performing a first aid assessment can lead to claims being raised against you at an employment tribunal.

Moreover, the HSE will prosecute businesses where there's a significant risk or a disregard for safety standards.

How to conduct a first aid assessment

It's important you conduct your first aid needs assessment correctly. Doing so means you minimise the impacts of any workplace accidents that can occur in your company.

When carrying out your first aid needs assessment, you must consider the following:

  • Whether a first aider is required.
  • All potential hazards present in your workplace.
  • The size of your company.
  • The distance to any emergency services.
  • The working hours and shift patterns of your employees.

Make sure you also consider any potential visitors to site, as their Health & Safety could also be at risk.

What are first aid arrangements?

A first aid arrangement is a plan made following the outcome of your assessment. In essence, your arrangement will show the level of first aid equipment, facilities, and persons required in your workplace.

Your arrangements must include:

  • A fully-stocked first aid kit.
  • A designated person or people to carry out first aid.
  • Any further guidance given to your employees regarding the arrangements.

It’s important your employees are aware of any arrangements within your company. So they know who and what equipment to find should an accident occur.

Is it a legal requirement to have first aiders in your company?

No, it is not a legal requirement to have first aiders in your company. But you must appoint a competent person to take charge of your first aid at work. Whether you need a first aider in your company depends on the outcome of your assessment.

But you’ll likely need at least one first aider on site at all times. This appointed person or persons must hold vital skills and required training in case of an accident. Your first aiders should have been trained competently in:

  • First aid at work.
  • Emergency first aid.
  • Any other training that's been identified in your assessment.

These appointed persons will administer first aid before the arrival of the emergency services.

How many first aiders do you need?

Following completion of your assessment, you'll know how many first aiders you'll need. There's no legal requirement for how many first aiders you need. But under HSE guidance, the following amount is recommended:

Low-level hazards

If all activities in your business are a low-level hazard (such as an office), and there are fewer than 25 workers - only one first aider will be needed.

However if the number of employees you have increases to between 25 and 50, then you'll need at least two.

High-level hazards

If all activities in your business are high-level hazards (such as manufacturing or construction), then at least one first aider is needed. Even if there are fewer than five staff members.

If the amount of staff increases to past 50, you'll need at least one person who has first aid skills for every 50 employees.

What is a first aid box?

Also known as a first aid kit, a first aid box is a box that contains any equipment required for giving emergency medical help.

Each first aid box you have on site should be located in an easily accessible location for all employees, with clear signage. That way, if an accident occurs, your first aiders can act quickly and efficiently.

What should be included in a first aid kit?

It's important you know what should be in your first aid kit. Although there is no set requirement of what items should be included, it must be sufficient for your company. The location of your first aid kits should be made clear to all your employees.

At a minimum, you must include the following items in your first aid kit:

  • A leaflet clearly outlining first aid guidance.
  • Assorted plasters (20).
  • Triangular bandages (4).
  • A pair of disposable gloves (1).
  • Medium-sized sterile wound dressings (6).
  • Large-sized sterile wound dressings (6).
  • Sterile eye pads (2).

Should you offer first aid training to your employees?

Offering first aid training to your employees is a great way of ensuring the appropriate medical care can be given when required.

The first couple of minutes following an accident taking place are the most vital. And having training in place could be the difference between life and fatal work accidents at work.

Any training providers you use must be able to meet the criteria made clear by the HSE. Including:

  • The qualification expected for first aid trainers, valid for three years.
  • The monitoring of assurance systems.
  • The standards required for first aid at work.
  • A certification given after completion.

What is a first aid at work training course?

A first aid at work training course is when your employees learn the basics of first aid. The HSE requires learners of first aid to attend all possible sessions during this course; made up of a mix of observations and questioning.

A training course is the best way to make sure your employees are prepared and equipped if an accident occurs. It can cover a range of areas, such as:

  • Spinal injuries.
  • Head injuries.
  • Fractures.
  • Choking.
  • Bleeds.

You can also send your employees on an emergency first aid at work course. This additional first aid training will ensure your employees are fully equipped to deal with any incidents that may occur. An emergency course will offer guidance on the following:

  • Unresponsive employees or those who aren't breathing.
  • Employees suffering from shock.
  • Employees having a seizure.

What to do if there's an accident at work

It's important you know what to do if there's an accident at work. Certain cases of injuries, illnesses, or incidents must be reported to the HSE. This is a legal requirement under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and, Dangerous Occurrences Regulations, known as RIDDOR.

Incidents you must report include:

  • Fatal accidents and non-fatal accidents.
  • Work-related diseases.
  • Accidents that result in more than seven days of absence.
  • Gas-related incidents.

Get expert advice on first aid at work from Peninsula

In the workplace, you should always think of Health & Safety first. No matter the size of your company, you must have first aid procedures in place. This includes a well-stocked first aid box and qualified first aiders.

If you don't abide by the safety first aid regulations and one of your employees has an accident, you could face hefty compensation claims and even employment tribunal hearings.

Peninsula offers expert advice on first aid at work. Our teams provide 24/7 Health & Safety advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our Health & Safety experts.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with a Health & Safety consultant today.


Try Brainbox for free today

When AI meets 40 years of Peninsula expertise... you get instant, expert answers to your HR and Health & Safety questions


Got a question? Check whether we’ve already answered it for you…

Related articles

  • person writing on note pad


    Health & Safety Audit

    In this guide, we'll discuss what a Health & Safety audit is, the benefits of conducting one, and the process to follow.

    Peninsula TeamPeninsula Team
    • Health & Safety
  • a woman on her phone holding her head on a couch


    Endometriosis at Work

    In this guide, we'll discuss the effects of endometriosis on your employees, how Peninsula can help you support them, and the legislation you must follow.

    Peninsula TeamPeninsula Team
    • Occupational Health
  • a woman in PPE working


    Health & Safety Software

    In this guide, we'll discuss Health & Safety software, its benefits, and how Peninsula can help with your workplace safety management.

    Peninsula Team Peninsula Team
    • Health & Safety
Back to resource hub

Try Brainbox for free today

When AI meets 40 years of Peninsula expertise... you get instant, expert answers to your HR and Health & Safety questions

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the latest news & tips that matter most to your business in our monthly newsletter.