Health & safety: First aid

Robert Downes

Robert Downes gives a summary of first aid requirements for businesses

Expert: Robert Downes

Company: Forum of Private Business

Background: Senior policy advisor at the not-for-profit Forum of Private Business organisation 

Under the Health and Safety Regulations 1981, an employer is required to provide equipment and facilities adequate for enabling first aid to be given to employees if injured or ill at work.

An employer should also provide a suitable number of persons able to give first aid to employees, who have undergone proper training every three years. There is no fixed level for the provision of first aid, but each employer must assess which personnel are appropriate.

You must consider:

  • Workplace hazards and risks
  • Size of the organisation
  • Organisation's history of accidents
  • Nature and distribution of the workforce
  • Remoteness of the site from emergency services
  • Needs of travelling, remote and lone workers
  • Employees working on shared or multi-occupied sites
  • Annual leave and other absences of first aiders and appointed persons

There should be at least one first aid container, identified with a white cross on a green background, suitably stocked and preferably located close to hand of washing facilities. There is no mandatory list of items but in an environment with no special risk, it should include a leaflet giving general guidance on first aid, individually wrapped sterile adhesive dressings (assorted sizes), sterile eye pads and individually wrapped triangular bandages. In addition, safety pins, individually wrapped sterile unmedicated wound dressings and disposable gloves should also be present.

Finally, employers should provide first aiders and appointed persons with a book in which to record incidents. The entry should include the date, place, time of the incident and name and job title of the injured person, plus details of the injury and the treatment provided. In addition, what happened to the person immediately afterwards, as well as the name and signature of first aider should be recorded.


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