First aid legal requirements
Employers have a legal duty to arrange for the immediate care of their staff if they become ill or suffer an injury at work. Check my first aid needs.
The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981
These regulations govern the provision of first aid by a business to their staff. The Health and Safety Regulations apply to all workplaces, including those with fewer than five employees.
2013 updates to Health and Safety Regulations
Updated guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) came into effect on 1 October 2013. The updates allow greater freedom to choose who provides your first aid at work training, but does not affect the legal duty that is placed on employers to make arrangements for the care of staff if they have an accident or become ill while they are at work.
To find out what this means for you and your workplace you can read our FAQs on updates to Health and Safety Regulations.
All employers should make an assessment of their first aid needs based on the hazards and risks involved in their work. First aid can, and does, save lives and your level of provision should be “adequate and appropriate” to your circumstances. To decide what is adequate and appropriate for you, you should think about things like the nature of your work and how hazardous it is, the nature of your workforce and if you have staff with pre-known medical conditions, the size of your organisation, and the needs of travelling, lone or remote workers.*
*This is not an exhaustive list, for more information on needs assessment you can visit the HSE website or you can also use our online course calculator which will tell you what is recommended based on HSE guidelines for first aid at work and see some examples we have prepared for you.
You must ensure your first aiders receive training that will teach them the necessary first aid skills and leave them feeling confident that they could respond to an emergency. To guarantee this, you should pick a training provider you can trust. When you are choosing a training provider you should check:
- the qualifications expected of trainers and assessors
- monitoring and quality assurance systems
- teaching and standards of fist aid practice
- syllabus content and certification.
The HSE website provides a due diligence checklist that you can use when you are selecting your training provider.
The British Red Cross not only meets the criteria but exceeds the level of quality needed to ensure you can prove due diligence.
We are mentioned by the HSE as standard setters for currently accepted first aid practice in relation to the topics covered on a first aid at work or emergency first aid at work course.
We have been working with businesses for more than 30 years and have a reputation for quality and excellence. We hold ISO:9001 guaranteeing the quality of service and training you can expect to receive by choosing to train with us.
Our aim is to go above and beyond your expectations and we are the only UK training provider to offer a free online support programme once you have completed your course.
View our checklist for how we exceed HSE due diligence criteria
Immediate first aid treatment can be vital in reducing the effects of an injury or illness. In some cases, for example treating a sudden cardiac arrest, time can be the difference between life and death. With this in mind, you should consider how quickly a first aider can cover the distance between buildings and if it is more appropriate to provide additional cover in each building.
Some businesses may have varying levels of hazards and risks, for example a site office and a construction site, and in this case you should complete a separate needs assessment for each considering the hazards in each area.
If you employ staff that work in a remote location, you should consider their first aid needs. You may need to provide additional training or provide staff with a personal first aid box. If you have colleagues that work alone, you should consider their welfare and provide a means of summoning help in an emergency, such as a mobile phone. Where the site is remote from emergency services you should inform the emergency services in writing of this location and any specific hazards that are present.
Employers are responsible for meeting the first aid needs of staff who work away from the main site, for example, those who travel regularly. You should consider providing additional training and a personal first aid box.
First aid regulations only relate to providing care for employees. However, many businesses such as shops, restaurants and leisure facilities that deal with members of the public are recommended to consider this is their needs assessment. The HSE advocate that in these cases first aiders should receive training above the minimum legal requirement of an emergency first aid work course and should complete a first aid at work course so that they can competently react to an emergency.
The Red Cross also offers first aid public courses in first aid for adults and baby and child first aid.
If you are self-employed and work in a low hazard environment, such as your own home, you do not need to provide first aid beyond your normal needs.
However, if you are self-employed as a contractor and work on a site with other self-employed people, you are each responsible for making your own first aid arrangements. You can appoint one person as the nominated first aider as long as all information relating to hazards and medical conditions of the workers is shared and easily accessible to the first aider.
It is essential to provide adequate first aid cover at all times people are in work. Separate arrangements may need to be made for each shift. You may also want to train additional first aiders to cover annual leave or unexpected absences.