How many first aiders should a business have?

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Fotolia 3910273 SAlthough there is no legal obligation for businesses to provide first aid training to any one employee, there are some industry guidelines worth noting. The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure that an employee who is injured or taken ill at work receives immediate attention.

These regulations apply to all workplaces including those with less than five employees and to the self-employed. Employers are required to carry out a risk assessment of first-aid needs to determine what first-aid requirements should be provided.

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. Click here to read more.


A low-risk workplace should have a first-aid box and an appointed person, workplaces with more significant health and safety risks are more likely to need a trained first-aider.

What is an appointed person?

This is someone who has either volunteered or been elected for the role by an employer. They would be responsible for the first aid kit which needs to be well stocked and for supplying other employees with first aid information and details on what to do in an emergency. In the event of an accident or injury at work, they would take the lead and where necessary be the person that contacts the emergency services.


They would not be first aid trained and should not administer first aid for which they have not been trained.

What is a first aider?

A first-aider is someone who has successfully undertaken and passed an awarded first-aid training course as stipulated by the HSE. Valid certification has to be in date with recommended annual refreshers. Training should be facilitated by an approved registered centre with guidance that employers use due diligence when selecting a training provider. Click here for guidance notes in selecting a first-aid training provider.

How do you assess how many first aiders you need?

This is subject to your workplace and number of employees. High risk or low risk environments would need more or less first aiders. An assessment tool is available from the HSE to help here.

11 questions to ask yourself

If you answer yes to one or more questions, then you probably need at least one appointed person or even one or more first aiders:

1.    Does your organisation work with chemicals?
2.    Does your organisation work with machinery/heavy plant machinery?
3.    Are you in the manufacturing, construction or food processing industry?
4.    Are you in the healthcare/medical industry?
5.    Are you in the business of education?
6.    Can you name one or more other hazard associated with your workplace?
7.    Are your nearest emergency medical services more than five miles away?
8.    Do you operate shift work, late night working or lone working?
9.    Is there a history of previous accidents at your workplace?
10.    Are you currently without an appointed person, or qualified first aider?
11.    Do you employ more than 50 people?

What First Response recommends

Other organisations might advise to have one first-aider for every 50 people you employ. Our advice is you can never really have enough.


Ensure your first-aid team is professionally qualified, regularly updated and has enough cover if any of them are out of the office, on annual leave or off sick.


First aid training is a ‘win win’ situation for both employer and employee. Your workforce will feel reassured that there are systems and processes in place to deal with a medical emergency, and your first-aiders will benefit form valuable personal development and training that will stay with them for life.


Here at First Response we all agree that all first-aiders should be defibrillator trained and this should form part of any first aid training development for our future first-aiders.


And finally, ask yourself if in the event of a medical emergency at work, would your team confidently know what to do?


Download a copy of The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 Guidance on Regulation by clicking here.

You may also be interested in: FIRST RESPONSE BLOG: When to call for an ambulance

First Response. Training for life. Training to save a life.

Last modified on Tuesday, 13 October 2015
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Tim Hart

Tim Hart IQA AET - Director

Emergency Ambulance Practitioner RRV/CIEH Professional Trainer/Assessors A1/FAETC Stage 1/CTLLS/Safe People Handling Instructor (RoSPA)
Great Western Ambulance NHS Trust. Affiliate Member of the Society for Education and Training.

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