Your Legal Duties as an Employer

In the event of an injury or sudden illness, failure to provide competent first aid could result in a person’s death.  As an employer, you should ensure that any employee who falls ill or becomes injured at work, receives immediate attention.  The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will prosecute in cases where there is a significant risk, a disregard for established standards or persistent poor compliance with the law.

The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 require employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure that employees receive immediate treatment if they fall ill or are injured at work.  These regulations apply to all workplaces and to the self-employed, even those with less than 5 employees.

The regulations do not place a legal duty on employers to make first aid provision for non-employees such as the public or children in schools, however the HSE strongly recommends that non-employees are included in any assessment of first aid needs and that provision is made for them.

What do I need to do?

What is deemed ‘adequate and appropriate’ will depend on the circumstances at your establishment.  This includes whether trained first aiders are needed, what should be included in a first aid box and whether a treatment room is required.  Employers should carry out a first aid needs assessment to determine exactly what they are obligated to provide.

The minimum first aid provision on any work site is:

  • a suitably stocked first aid kit

  • an appointed person to taken charge of first aid arrangements

  • information for employees about first aid arrangements

What should I consider when assessing first aid needs?

Employers are best placed to decide on the provision they need.  You should carry out a risk assessment to decide on the number of first aiders required and the level of training needed as there are some circumstances and factors which mean you will need greater provision. When assessing their specific needs, employers need to consider:

  • workplace hazards and risks

  • the size of the organisation

  • the organisation’s accident history

  • the nature and distribution of the workforce

  • the remoteness of the site from emergency medical aid

  • the 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

The following table offers guidance to the MINIMUM levels of first aid cover but is no replacement for a thorough risk assessment:

How many first aiders

What is the difference between an appointed person and a first aider?

An appointed person is someone who has been designated to take responsibility for your first aid arrangements e.g looking first aid equipment and facilities or calling the Emergency Services.  An appointed person does not need first aid training, however this is only the minimum requirement and there is always the possibility that an accident or sudden illness may occur.

A first aider is someone who has been trained to the appropriate level identified in your needs assessment.  This may be:

  • First at Work (FAW)

  • Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW)

  • other specialist first aid training relevant to the particular circumstances of your workplace

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 How do I choose a First Aider?

The selection of a first aider depends upon a number of factors. The person(s) best suited to be a workplace First Aider will volunteer and will:

  • have good communication skills

  • be reliable

  • have an ability to learn new skills and retain knowledge

  • be able to cope with stressful situations and physically demanding emergency procedures

  • have normal duties in the workplace which DO NOT impede them responding rapidly to an emergency

 How do I choose a training provider?

As an employer, you are responsible for selecting an appropriate training provider.  As HSE no longer approves first aid training organisations, you will need to check that they meet the required standards (due diligence).  All training providers should be prepared to demonstrate they:

  • are competent to deliver first aid training

  • have qualified trainers with formal teaching/assessing qualifications 

  • teach relevant course content in the correct way

  • have the necessary quality assurance systems in place

The easiest way to satisfy yourself of a training provider’s competence, and therefore carry out your due diligence is to choose a regulated provider who offers approved qualifications.  These training providers operate under Awarding Organisations who are recognised by qualification regulators such as SQA or Ofqual with strict quality assurance processes.

It is important to note that training providers with an affiliation to an industry body are not necessarily regulated to an agreed standard unless they are also approved by a legitimate Awarding Organisation e.g Ofgqual or SQA.

Safe Hands First Aid Training Ltd is registered with Qualsafe as an awarding body who are accredited by Ofqual.  In the near future, we will also be registered with SQA in Scotland and are subject to regular external assessments as well as monitoring by  our own Internal Quality Assurer.

How do I organise a training programme?

Your training provider can help you to do this.  Employees are required to revalidate their qualification shortly before their current certificate is about to expire.   It is important to establish a rolling programme of training so that all first aider certificates do not require renewal at the same time – this ensures you will always have appropriate cover and will fulfil your legal requirements.  It can take up to 3 years before all first aiders in the workplace are captured within any new training structure, depending on when their existing certification is due to expire.

You may find it useful to keep a record of employee training.  Safe Hands First Aid Training Ltd will work with you to ensure that your provision is always adequate for your needs and will remind you before certification is due to expire in order to make sure you remain compliant.


For an employee to demonstrate that they have competence in first aid, they must hold a certificate which contains the following information:

  • name of the training organisation

  • name of the qualification

  • name of the individual

  • a validity period e.g 3 years from the date of the course

  • an indication that the certificate has been issued for the purposes of complying with the Health & Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981

  • a statement that teaching was delivered in accordance with current practice

*If the qualification is neither FAW or EFAW, an outline of the topics covered should be attached