The Law - Health and Safety First Aid Regulations 1981
regulations place a duty on employers to make adequate first aid
provision for their employees, in case they become ill or injured at
work. The associated Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) expands on this,
giving details of what is classed as adequate.
The regulations themselves are very general and the main provisions are contained within regulations 3 and 4:
Regulation 3 (1) requires provision of 'such equipment and facilities
as are adequate and appropriate in the circumstances for enabling
first-aid to be rendered to his employees if they are injured or become
ill at work.'
• Regulation 3 (2) requires provision of an
adequate number of trained personnel to render this first-aid. If there
is shift work or out of hours working, your employer should ensure
there are enough first-aiders to provide cover for all the hours in
which your work place operates.
• Regulation 3 (3) allows for
competent persons to cover for temporary and exceptional absences of
trained first-aiders. These are known as 'Appointed Persons'. An
appointed person should be able to take charge when someone is injured
or falls ill, and call an ambulance, if required, and keep stock of the
first aid box and replenish supplies when needed.
Regulation 4 requires employers to inform their employees of the
arrangements made for first-aid, including the location of equipment,
facilities and personnel. There should be notices telling employees who
the first aiders are and where they can be found, as well as where the
nearest first aid box is located. Your employer should also make
special arrangements for workers who have reading or language
What is a First-Aider?
first-aider is someone who has undergone a training course in
administering first aid and holds a current first aid-at-work
certificate. Sometimes more than one is needed and they can also take
on the role of the appointed person in some cases.
Number of First Aiders
There are no set limits for numbers - this must be decided after considering:
• the nature of work and levels of risk involved;
• the size and location of workplace and distance from medical facilities;
• the hours of work
the ACoP suggests that the number should never be less than 1 trained
first aider for every 50 employees. Where shiftwork or long hours are
worked, adequate cover must be provided throughout the working period.
To be classed as a trained first aider, they must have undertaken a
course approved by the HSE, and any necessary refresher training.
there are specific hazards, which are outside of the normal approved
syllabus, it is the employers responsibility to ensure that necessary
additional training and facilities are available. Examples are a
danger of poisoning by certain substances, burns from hydrofluoric acid
or the need for oxygen as an adjunct to resuscitation.
persons are not required to have any formal first aid training - though
it is a good idea for them to have received training in emergency first
aid procedures. The ACoP makes it quite clear that
foreseeable absences, such as planned annual leave, do not qualify as
'exceptional and temporary circumstances' under regulation 3(3).
First Aid Boxes, Kits and Rooms
ACoP and Guidance contains clear details of what should be contained
within first aid kits. It also lays down when employers should
consider provision of a first aid room, and the additional equipment
that this would require.
Although different working environments have different needs, the minimum first aid provision in any work site should include:
• A suitably stocked and maintained first aid box which,
though it can differ from workplace to workplace, should include at
least: two dozen wrapped sterile adhesive dressings in assorted sizes,
two sterile eye pads, four individually wrapped triangular bandages,
six safety pins, six medium sized and two large sized individually
wrapped sterile un-medicated wound dressings and a pair of disposable
• An appointed person to take charge of first aid arrangements
Around the clock quick access to the first aid equipment and a person
who can administer first aid as accidents can happen at any time
by Dennis Mac (IOSH accredited Unite Safety Rep, retired)
aid at work - The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 -
Approved Code of Practice and Guidance (L74)" ; United Kingdom Health
and Safety Commission, ISBN 0717610500