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Quick Guide: First aid at work

All workplaces are required to have adequate and appropriate first aid equipment, facilities and people so that anyone on the premises who is injured or taken ill can be given immediate help.

As a minimum there should be:

  • A suitably stocked first aid kit

  • An appointed person/trained first aider to take charge of first aid arrangements

This information should be shared with employees.

Depending on your work environment will dictate what first aid measures will be required.

The minimum provision for a low risk environment such as an office or shop is likely to be:

  • An appointed person to take charge of first aid arrangements

  • A suitably stocked first aid kit.

However, where there are higher level hazards such as the use of chemicals and machinery, consideration will need to be given to:

  • Providing first aiders

  • Any additional training for first aiders to deal with specific injuries caused by special hazards

  • Other equipment (as well as a first aid kit) such as an eye wash or burns pack

  • Location of first aid equipment with signage and a first aid room

First aid box

The contents for a low risk workplace as a minimum could include:

  • a leaflet giving general guidance on first aid (eg. HSE’s leaflet Basic advice on first aid at work)

  • 20 individually wrapped sterile plasters (of assorted sizes), appropriate to the type of work (you can provide hypoallergenic plasters if necessary);

  • two sterile eye pads;

  • four individually wrapped triangular bandages, preferably sterile;

  • six safety pins;

  • two large, individually wrapped, sterile, unmedicated wound dressings;

  • six medium-sized, individually wrapped, sterile, unmedicated wound dressings;

  • at least three pairs of disposable gloves

This is a suggested contents list based on advice from the HSE. There is no mandatory list of items as it will vary depending on the type of workplace and working activities.

It is however recommended that tablets and medicines should not be kept in the first-aid box.

Appointed persons and first aiders


As a minimum requirement an appointed person may only be needed in a small low risk workplace where first aiders are not considered necessary, however there will always be the possibility a sudden illness or an accident may occur.

An appointed person includes calling the emergency services when required; restocking and monitoring first aid equipment and taking charge in the event that medical treatment is required.

An appointed person may also provide emergency cover where a first aider is absent due to unforeseen circumstances (although annual leave doesn't count). There is no formal training for an appointed person.

A trained first aider will be required where the working environment, working activities and/or numbers on the premises dictate a need. A first aider must attend an approved training course which can be:

  • First aid at work (FAW) –a three day course (totalling 18 hours) designed for workplaces with a high risk factors such as manufacturing, warehousing, exposure to chemicals or applying first aid to a range of specific injuries and illness.

  • Emergency first aid at work (EFAW) – a one day course (consisting of 6 hours) designed for low risk workplaces.

It is a legal requirement to prepare a first aid needs assessment for your workplace to identify whether first aiders need to be trained in FAW or EFAW training.

A first aid training certificate lasts for three years. However, as good practice first aid refresher training completed annually is a good way of allowing first aiders to keep up to date with their skills.


The number of first aiders and/or appointed persons will be depend on the circumstances of the workplace. The first aid needs assessment will help to determine the requirements based on the number of people on the premises and the working activities. Other factors include ensuring first aid coverage at all times during sickness absence, holidays and shift working.

The HSE suggest the following approach:

Low hazard (offices and shops)

Fewer than 25 – At least one appointed person

25-50 - At least one first aider trained in EFAW

More than 50 - At least one first aider trained in FAW for every 100 employees (or part thereof)

Higher hazard (warehousing, manufacturing)

Fewer than 5 – At least one appointed person

5-50 - At least one first aider trained in EFAW or FAW depending on the type of injuries which may occur

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

Accident book

Reporting accidents is not only a legal requirement but also an important way of monitoring the effectiveness of a Company’s safety policies and procedures.

All accidents however minor need to be reported in the accident book. Perforated pages will allow the completed form to be removed and held securely (for data protection) and should be retained for at least three years from the date of entry.

All accidents should be reviewed to form part of an incident investigation in order to help prevent a re-occurrence.

In accordance with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence Regulations, some work-related accidents, diseases and dangerous occurrences must be reported to the Enforcing Authorities.

There is a full list of reportable incidents within the Regulations. However most notable are:

  • Fatalities –These must be reported by the quickest method possible, usually by telephone, as soon as possible.

  • Specified Injuries – This includes fractures, amputations, loss or reduction of sight, crush injuries causing damage to the brain or major organs, burning or scalding, scalping, loss of consciousness caused by head injury or asphyxia and any other injury arising from work in a confined space.

  • Injuries that causes the employee to be incapacitated for more than seven (7) days (not counting the day on which the accident happened). Incapacitation means that the worker is absent or is unable to do work that they would reasonable be expected to do as part of their normal work.

  • Injuries to non-workers which result in them being taken directly to hospital for treatment.

  • Occupational Diseases.

  • Carcinogens, Mutagens and Biological Agents.

  • Dangerous Occurrences.


The latest advice on administering first aid during the pandemic can be found below:

If you require support with your first aid arrangements please get in touch.

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