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Know the level of first aid provision


Louise Vickers



Dec 2021

First Aid
Health and Safety

If ever there was a medical emergency at work, at home or in a shared office space would you be able to provide the correct first aid and handle an emergency situation calmly and confidently? It is imperative you, your colleagues and those around you in the workplace have some first aid knowledge.

What the Law says: Employers' legal duties

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require 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.

What is 'adequate and appropriate' will depend on the circumstances in the workplace. This includes whether trained first-aiders are needed, what should be included in a first-aid box and if a first-aid room is required. Employers should carry out an assessment of first-aid needs to determine what to provide.

Application of the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 to self-employed workers

If you are self employed you are required to ensure you have such equipment, as may be adequate and appropriate in the circumstances, to provide first aid to yourself while at work.

You should make an assessment of the hazards and risks in your workplace and establish an appropriate level of first-aid provision. If you carry out activities involving low hazards (eg clerical work) in your own home, you would not be expected to provide first-aid equipment beyond your normal domestic needs. If your work involves driving long distances or you are continuously on the road, the assessment may identify the need to keep a personal first-aid kit in your vehicle.

Many self-employed people work on mixed premises with other self-employed or employed workers. Although you are legally responsible for your own first-aid provision, it is sensible to make joint arrangements with the other occupiers and self-employed workers on the premises. This would generally mean that one employer would take responsibility for first aid for all workers on the premises. HSE strongly recommends there is a written agreement for any such arrangement.

First aid for homeworkers and co-working spaces

If your work is low-risk, such as desk-based work and you work in your own home, you don't need any first aid equipment beyond normal domestic needs.

If your work involves lots of driving, you may want to keep a first aid kit in your vehicle.

If you're self-employed and based in a co-working space (shared workspace with other self-employed or employed workers) you're legally responsible for your own first aid provision. However, you can make joint arrangements with the other occupiers. Usually, in a written agreement, one employer takes responsibility for first aid for all workers on the premises.

Sources (HSE website 15.12.21) First aid for homeworkers and co-working spaces - HSE

The Health & Safety Executive states that:

  • The minimum first-aid provision on any work site is: a suitably stocked first-aid kit.
  • An appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements.
  • Every business, freelance, self-employed or even sole traders, will have some first aid or health and safety obligations.
  • Information is given to all who work with your business about first-aid arrangements.

It is important to remember that accidents and illness can happen at any time. Provision for first aid needs must be available at all times while people are at work.

Some small workplaces with low-level hazards may need only the minimum provision for first aid. But there are circumstances and factors that will mean you need greater provision. You, as an employer, are well placed to decide the provision you need.

What is a first-aider?

A first-aider is someone who has done training appropriate to the level identified in the needs assessment. This may be: first aid at work (FAW); or emergency first aid at work (EFAW); or some other first-aid training appropriate to the particular circumstances of your workplace.

So what does this mean in practical terms? What do you need to do?

There are no hard and fast rules on how many trained first aiders you should have. It depends on the nature of your work and its location.

First aiders are trained by a competent training provider in:

  • emergency first aid at work (EFAW) – at this level they're qualified to give emergency first aid to someone who is injured or becomes ill while at work
  • first aid at work (FAW) – qualified to EFAW level but can also apply first aid to a range of specific injuries and illnesses

The main points you need to consider are:

  • Ensure you have the correct ratio of trained first aiders to the full number of staff members within your workplace.
  • All businesses should complete a bespoke training needs assessment. – This takes minutes to complete and will give you a report regarding how many staff will need first aid training needs and the training course they will need to attend.
  • Ensure the staff that are appointed as first aiders gain a legally accredited certificate by attending a legally accredited training course.

First Aider risk assessment

This takes minutes to complete and will give you an accurate recommendation of the number of staff needing training and to what level. Click here to complete your risk assessment.

Use the findings of your first aid needs assessment to decide:

  • if you need someone trained in first aid
  • what's an adequate and appropriate level of training
  • how many people you train

Keep training up to date with regular refresher courses.

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Sources: HSE.org

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