Workplace first-aid arrangements

  • Health & Safety
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For the last couple of years both trade journals and the health and safety press have been full of articles about changes in the legislation surrounding first aid at work. As a result Peninsula’s 24 Hour BusinessSafe Advice Line has been receiving many calls from clients concerned that their arrangements might not be up to date. In some cases they have sought advice following contacts by people selling first aid supplies and first aid training who have suggested that without action they may be in breach of their requirements.

The government’s commitment to simplifying health and safety legislation is behind all the press articles. Following reports by both Lord Young and Professor Löfstedt the government set out to simplify the requirements. Initially there was a consultation exercise on proposals to remove a requirement for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to approve first aid training courses and then on a revision to the Approved Code of Practice for First Aid at Work. Both have now been agreed and the changes will come into effect on 1 October 2013.

For employers the little will change. The basic requirements are not changed; employers will still have a responsibility to assess their requirements for first aid in the workplace; deciding whether they need trained first-aiders, emergency first-aiders or appointed persons and the type and quantity of first aid supplies required.

Current HSE advice is that where the risk of injury is normal the requirements for trained personnel should be as follows -

Category of risk

Number employed at any location

Suggested number of first aid personnel

Low hazard - e.g. shops, offices, libraries.

Fewer than 25

At least one Appointed Person.


At least one first aider trained in Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW).

More than 50

At least one first aider trained in First Aid at Work (FAW) for every 100 employees (or part thereof).

Higher hazard – e.g. light engineering, assembly work, food processing, construction sites, slaughter houses, chemical plants, work with dangerous machinery or sharp instruments, etc

Fewer than 5

At least one Appointed Person.


At least one first aider trained in EFAW depending on the type of injuries that might occur.

More than 50

At least one first aider trained in FAW for every 50 employees (or part thereof).

Where there are hazards for which additional first aid skills are necessary.

First aider trained in FAW plus those specific additional skills.

A person trained in Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) is able to give emergency first aid assistance oin low risk premises. Their training will normally take no more than one day.

The more extensive First Aid at Work (FAW) training will normally require a 3 day training period.

Anyone being trained now or who is need of refresher training before 30 September must be trained by an HSE approved trainer to an HSE approved training course. The Appointed Person in low risk businesses does not require first-aid training. Their role is to co-ordinate the business’s approach in the event of an injury accident; to call for emergency assistance, to facilitate the arrival of paramedics, to record details of the incident and to ensure tha maintenance of first aid supplies. If a business relies on an Appointed Person there should also be a deputy available to provide cover in their absence.

First aid supplies must also be based on the needs of the workplace. Although there is a British Standard for the contents of a first aid kit first aid that standard may not, in high risk premises, provide the correct or sufficient supplies. In low risk premises the content might be substantially more than is necessary. For lower risk premises HSE suggests that an adequate first aid box will include

  • A leaflet giving general guidance on first aid (for example HSE leaflet ‘Basic advice on first aid at work’)
  • 20 individually wrapped sterile plasters (assorted sizes), appropriate to the type of work (dressings should be of a detectable type for food handlers)
  • Two sterile eye pads
  • Six safety pins
  • Four individually wrapped triangular bandages (preferably sterile);
  • Six medium sized individually wrapped sterile un-medicated wound dressings
  • Two large sterile individually wrapped un-medicated wound dressings
  • One pair of disposable gloves

When all the changes are finally confirmed and in the lead up to their introduction we will be supplying clients with more detailed advice and guidance on what will be required of them as the new arrangements come into force on 1 October.

In the meantime if you have any concerns about this matter or your current arrangements please do not hesitate to contact our 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2772 option 2.

By Tony Trenear


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