Written by Steven Mullan
Having first aid measures in place to deal with potential accidents and incidents at work is an incredibly vital part of your health and safety procedure. Hopefully, some of these skills won’t need to be put into use, but it is essential that first aiders are ready to act in case of either minor injury or emergency. However, first aid regulations can be complicated, and you may be unsure if you have the necessary cover.
Looking to Learn More?
Our Workplace First Aid and Paediatric First Aid Training are suitable for staff members who wish to learn new first aid skills and gain awareness. We also offer First Aid at Work (FAW) Refresher and Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) Refresher which are intended for qualified first aiders who need to maintain their existing first aid skills.
How Many First Aiders Are Required By Law?
By law (the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981), employers must ensure they provide adequate and appropriate first aid equipment, facilities, and personnel in the workplace. However, what is adequate and appropriate is quite vague and it can be difficult to know how to ensure you are legally compliant. Therefore, you should conduct a first aid needs assessment to ensure you have adequate first aiders in your organisation.
How to Carry Out a First Aid Needs Assessment
Carrying out a first aid needs assessment may seem daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. The purpose of a first aid needs assessment is to ensure suitable provisions are in place in case of an accident or incident. While it isn’t a legal requirement for the first aid needs assessment to be written down or formal, keeping a written record is recommended. As an employer, you can use this assessment to demonstrate to an HSE or local authority inspector how you decided what level of first aid provision is required.
When carry out a first aid needs assessment, consider the following points:
What type of work is carried out?
Does the workplace have low or high-level hazards?
Has there been a history of accidents at the workplace?
Do you have any lone workers?
How big is your workforce?
Does your workforce stay onsite or work remotely?
Are your workers in full-time or part-time jobs?
What is the nature of the workforce? E.g. young workers, employees with disabilities or particular health problems, or trainees.
Is your workplace within easy distance and access to emergency services?
Do you have many visitors to the workplace?
Remember to consider the practicalities of day-to-day work when carrying out your first aid needs assessment. For example, if you decide you only need one first aider, what do you do if that person goes off sick or is on holiday? Do you have someone in their place who is trained to the same level? Think about whether people regularly visit your workplace. If you work in an organisation that has many visitors on-site, then it is advised that you can treat them should a situation arise.
High-hazard workplaces, such as construction sites with dangerous machinery, will likely require qualified first aiders who have completed additional training for first aiders to respond to injuries resulting from special hazards. Having carried out a first aid needs assessment of your workplace, you can determine what level of provision is required.
Looking to Learn More?
Our article on How to Conduct a First Aid Needs Assessment provides a free downloadable template you can use in your workplace.
Note, however, that the HSE no longer approve courses themselves. If qualified first aiders are needed, you should ensure they take appropriate training. The means of assessment should include a practical assessment and, at the end of the training, participants should gain a certificate in First Aid at Work (FAW) or Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW). To remain a qualified first aider, they must take FAW or EFAW requalification practical training every three years. It also recommended that they keep their skills current by taking refresher training every year. We offer both First Aid at Work (FAW) Refresher and Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) Refresher training.
How Many First Aiders Do I Need In My Workplace?
Having carried out a first aid needs assessment, you are now in a place to understand how many first aiders are required in your workplace. As was explained earlier, there is not a legal set number of first aiders that you need at work.
The HSE recommends that if work activities are low-level hazards (e.g. office or shops) and there are fewer than 25 employees, only one appointed person as a minimum may be suitable and a first-aider may not be required at all. If the number of employees in this scenario increases to between 25 and 50, then at least one EFAW first aider is needed. If more than 50 people are employed, then at least one first aider trained in FAW for every 100 employed is needed.
If a workplace has higher-level hazards present (e.g. food processing or chemical manufacture), then at least one appointed person is required if fewer than five employees are required. For 5 to 50, at least one first aider trained in FAW or EFAW(depending on the type of injuries that may be sustained) is suggested, when the number of employees exceeds 50, at least one first aider trained in FAW for every 50 employed.
Over recent years, it’s become more common for people to split their working hours between the traditional workplace and their homes, perhaps working three days in the workplace and two days from their home office. The need for first aiders in the workplace hasn’t changed, however, and it’s vital that you still have an adequate and appropriate number of trained people on-site whenever people are working there. Ideally, at least one appointed person should be always available in the workplace. If the usual first aider works from home, then a replacement first aider should be appropriately trained to cover the workplace while they are away.
A hybrid working policy should include details of the appointed first aiders and how their presence in the workplace will be managed so that there’s always a qualified first aider on-site. This may require more employees to be trained in first aid to ensure there are enough people to enable coverage on all days of the week. Remember that the more employees present on-site, the more trained first aiders you will need, as detailed above.
Do I Need an Appointed Person?
If your first aid needs assessment shows that you do not need any first aiders, then you must have an appointed person as a minimum. This person is responsible for first aid arrangements, such as calling the emergency services when required and maintaining first aid equipment. They do not need to have undertaken first aid training, though an awareness level is advised.
An appointed person may also take charge of arrangements if there is only one first aider and they are absent due to unforeseen circumstances, e.g. sickness. However, an appointed person is not necessary if there is an adequate number of qualified first-aiders.
In this article, you’ve learnt how many first aiders you need in the workplace, whether you work in a small office, large worksite or practise hybrid working. We hope you’ve found the information useful.