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First Aid At Work

Do you know how many first aiders you need for your business? No? You’re not alone.

It can be incredibly simple, or it could be a little more challenging.

This blog aims to talk you through the basics of First Aid at work.

Let’s start with the basics.....


What’s the minimum you need in your office:

1. A suitably stocked first-aid box.

2. An appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements.

3. Provision of information to employees on first-aid arrangements.


What is a suitably stocked first aid box?

Believe it or not, the HSE do give advice on what should be included:

  • 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


What is an appointed person?

An appointed person is someone who:

  • takes charge when someone is injured or becomes ill, including calling an ambulance if required

  • looks after the first-aid equipment, e.g. restocking the first-aid box.

An appointed person does not necessarily need formal training but without training will not be able to carry out any first aid.

Remember an appointed person should be available at all times that people are on your premises, so you will clearly need more than one to cover absence.


What information should I give my employees?

You need to tell them where the first aid resources are and who are the first aid staff.

When is my business too big for the minimum?

This is a complex question. If your business is a small office in the middle of a city with an ambulance station and hospital close by, you may only need the minimum.

Now put your small office in a remote area with a maintenance man who works on a ladder every week, probably you will need to up your resources, maybe to a First aid at Work trained person.


What else should I consider?

Some while ago a scenario occurred that should really make you think.

A tree felling contractor sent some employees out to a remote area in Scotland. They were using chainsaws as part of their role. They had first aid trained staff and first aid resources, plus a mobile phone to call for an ambulance if they got into trouble.

The big mistake was not checking they had a signal for the phone, an accident with a chainsaw resulted in an employee dying from loss of blood before they could get help to him.

The Employer was prosecuted and served a prison sentence.


In assessing your first-aid needs, you should consider:

  • the nature of the work you do

  • workplace hazards and risks (including specific hazards requiring special arrangements)

  • the nature and size of your workforce

  • the work patterns of your staff (shift work)

  • holiday and other absences of those who will be first-aiders and appointed persons

  • your organisation’s history of accidents

You may also need to consider:

  • the needs of traveling, remote and lone workers

  • the distribution of your workforce

  • the remoteness of any of your sites from emergency medical services

  • whether your employees work on shared or multi-occupancy sites

  • first-aid provision for non-employees (eg members of the public).



You may need to provide a suitable first-aid room where your needs assessment identifies that one is required. This will usually be necessary in larger premises or where higher hazards are present. The room should be easily accessible and a designated person should be given responsibility for supervising it.

Wherever possible, a first-aid room should be reserved exclusively for the purposes of first aid.

First-aid rooms should:

  • be large enough to hold an examination/medical couch

  • have washable surfaces and adequate heating, ventilation, and lighting

  • be kept clean, tidy, accessible, and available for use at all times when employees are at work

  • ideally, have a sink with hot and cold running water

  • be positioned as near as possible to a point of access for transport to the hospital

First aid rooms should display a notice on the door advising of the names, locations and, if appropriate, contact details for first-aiders. This information should also be displayed in other appropriate places.


Additional information

The HSE have a page dedicated to helping you: click here!

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