First Aid at Work: Your Responsibilities
As an employer it is up to you to ensure your employees have access to and get immediate assistance in the event of illness or an accident.
The law states you must have on site(s):
- A fully stocked first aid kit
- An appointed person or persons to oversee first aid
- Readily available information for all your employees about your first aid policies and procedures
“Adequate and appropriate”
That’s how the first aid arrangements you are required to provide are described. What that actually means will differ for every business. It is up to you to assess what is required for your business to meet that description.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) says you MUST consider:
- the type of the work you do
- hazards and the likely risk of them causing harm
- the size of your workforce
- work patterns of your staff
- holiday and other absences of those who will be first aiders and appointed persons
- the history of accidents in your business
The HSE also suggests you consider:
- the needs of travelling, remote and lone workers
- how close your sites are to emergency medical services
- whether your employees work on shared or multi-occupancy sites
- first aid for non-employees including members of the public
While you aren’t required to keep a record of your assessment, it’s a good idea to do so as it shows how you decided on your first aid arrangements and it will help those appointed to take charge of them.
Who’s in charge?
There must be at least one person chosen to be in charge of your first aid arrangements, including looking after equipment and contacting emergency services in the event of an accident.
You can choose who that person or persons will be or you can ask for a volunteer or volunteers. However, at least one of the appointed people MUST be available whenever people are at work.
They do NOT require any formal training.
First Aid Kit
The first aid kit(s) you keep on site(s) should be stocked as required by your first aid assessment – in other words “adequately and appropriately”.
The HSE give this as an example as a minimum for a low risk (like a desk-based office) environment:
- a leaflet with general guidance on first aid (for example, HSE’s leaflet Basic advice on first aid at work)
- individually wrapped sterile plasters of assorted sizes
- sterile eye pads
- individually wrapped triangular bandages, preferably sterile
- safety pins
- large and medium-sized sterile, individually wrapped, unmedicated wound dressings
- disposable gloves
You can buy a n off-the-shelf first aid kit – but make sure it conforms to BS 8599. It’s not a legal requirement but if it does, and you’ve checked it contains everything you need as well, you will be fully covered.
The person you have appointed to oversee your first aid arrangements should check the first aid kit on a regular basis and ensure it remains fully stocked and that any items with expiry dates are in date or replaced and that other equipment is in fully working order.
First Aid Training
For medium to high risk workplaces you may decide you need trained first aiders on site. Your first aid assessment will identify whether or not first aiders are important for your business and employees, what the appropriate level of training should be and how many you need.
Should you decide to appoint a first aider you are responsible for ensuring they get the required training. You can choose form four types of provider, as set out by the HSE:
- regulated qualifications from an awarding organisation (AO) – these are recognised and regulated by Ofqual, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) or the Welsh Government
- voluntary approval schemes, such as a trade body accredited by a third party – the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the national accreditation body recognised by government
- independent training where the provider can prove their competence
- training from one of the three Voluntary Aid Societies recognised by the government:
- St John Ambulance
- British Red Cross
- St Andrew’s First Aid
As an employer it is important you take your first aid responsibilities seriously, both for the safety of your employees and to protect your business should illness or accidents happen.