Are your current first aid arrangements adequate?...


Your responsibility and what you need to do:

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) cannot tell you what provision you should make for first aid within your own organisation or company.

You, as an employer, are best placed to understand the exact nature of your workplace and it's up to you to decide what you need to provide.


HSE demands that First aid provision must be ‘adequate and appropriate in the circumstances’. This means that you must provide sufficient first aid equipment (first aid kit), facilities and personnel at all times. This is at best; vague direction. However, some examples and guidance is available from the HSE guidance notes Click Here.


Your needs assessment:

In order to decide what provision you need to make you should undertake a first-aid needs assessment. This assessment should consider the circumstances of your workplace, workforce and the hazards and risks that may be present. The findings will help you decide what first-aid arrangements you need to put in place.


In assessing your first-aid needs, you should consider:


  • 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).


HSE has published further guidance on all the factors above that will help you carry out your first-aid needs assessment.


You may also wish to consider the HSE suite of case studies PDF, containing scenario-based examples of first-aid needs assessments for a variety of workplaces. They demonstrate the general principles involved in deciding on the provision you should make for first aid, but you should not assume the outcomes shown are directly transferable to your workplace.


You do not need to record the findings of your needs assessment, but you may find it useful to do so, as it will demonstrate how you have decided on the first-aid provision that you make.


The minimum requirement in terms of personnel 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. The appointed person can also provide emergency cover, within their role and competence, where a first-aider is absent due to unforeseen circumstances. An appointed person is not required to have any formal training.


If your workplace has more significant health and safety risks, for example you use machinery or hazardous materials then you are more likely to need a trained first-aider.


There are no hard and fast rules on exact numbers, and you will need to take into account all the relevant circumstances of your particular workplace.


HSE does not direct which first aid trainer or qualification you should choose. The industry is now self-regulated, there is no single industry standard.

But they all broadly deliver the same syllabus.



While we recommend that everybody should learn first aid and that companies should continue to employ qualified first aiders, you should understand that simply ticking the box of compliance does not guarantee corporate peace of mind. Because until now, you could not guarantee the capability of the first aider.

  • With an ambulance service that's under increasing pressure, professional emergency help might not be 10, 20 or even 40 minutes away. So making adequate first aid provision is more important today than it ever was.
  • As soon as the first aid course ends, legal responsibility for revision, maintenance of skills and the ultimate performance of the first aider is passed to the employer. Your company/organisation will be held responsible and accountable for any failings, not the trainer who conducted the first aid course.
  • Because first aid is not something that people do every day, they will suffer “skill fade”. It is inevitable. In fact; they’ll start to forget stuff, sometimes important stuff the minute that they finish the course. Until now; without constant revision, their first aid at work certificate might merely be evidence that they once knew something.
  • In the event of an investigation, you will be required to prove that you've made adequate provision in terms of time, resources and facilities that enabled your first aider to keep up-to-date.
    • Protected by the law of the "Good Samaritan" The first aider is unlikely to be held responsible for any failings.
    • The employer does not necessarily enjoy the same protection.
  • First aid is ordinarily taught in a benign classroom environment. it has remained largely unchanged in format for decades.
  • Traditional first aid training and arrangements could never mitigate the sometimes overwhelming emotional impact that a first aider may experience during a real medical emergency.
  • Until now: Under the pressure of a real medical emergency, nobody could predict what information the first aider might remember, what wrong action they might perform or what they might fail to do.



When your first aiders knowledge lets them down and it inevitably will, our unique step-by-step guides won’t. It is a proven concept, tested on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan for over a decade. Compliant with International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation, American Heart Association, European Resuscitation Council and UK Resuscitation Council first aid guidelines 2015.








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