People at work can suffer from injuries or illness. It is important to give them immediate attention and call an ambulance in serious cases whether the injury or illness is caused by the work they do or not. First-aid at work covers the arrangements you should make to ensure this happens. It can save lives and prevent minor injuries becoming major ones.

What should I consider when assessing first-aid needs?

Some small workplaces with low-level hazards may need only the minimum provision for first aid. But there are circumstances and factors that will mean you need greater provision. You, as an employer, are well placed to decide the provision you need.

When assessing the first-aid needs in your workplace consider the following:

  • providing first-aiders
  • additional training for first-aiders to deal with injuries caused by special hazards
  • additional first-aid equipment
  • precise location of first-aid equipment
  • providing a first-aid room
  • informing the emergency services in advance

As a minimum, you must have:

  • an appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements
  • a suitably stocked first-aid kit

You should also make sure that your first-aid provision caters for the type of injuries and illness that might occur in your workplace. Monitor accidents and ill health, and review your first-aid provision as appropriate.

What is an appointed person?

Where your assessment of first-aid needs identifies that a trained first-aider is not required in your workplace, you should appoint someone to take charge of first-aid arrangements. This is the minimum requirement.

Even in a small, low-hazard business where first-aiders are not considered
necessary, there is always the possibility that an accident or sudden illness may occur. It is therefore important that there is always someone available to take charge of these arrangements.

The role of this appointed person includes looking after first-aid equipment and facilities and calling the emergency services when required. They can also provide emergency cover where a first-aider is absent due to unforeseen circumstances (annual leave does not count). An appointed person does not need first-aid training.

An appointed person is not necessary where there are an adequate number of appropriately trained first-aiders.

What is a first-aider?

A first-aider is someone who has done training appropriate to the level identified in the needs assessment. This may be:

  • first aid at work (FAW); or
  • emergency first aid at work (EFAW); or
  • some other first-aid training appropriate to the particular circumstances of your workplace

To help keep their basic skills up to date, it is strongly recommended that your first-aiders undertake annual refresher training.

First-aid training is available from a wide range of providers who choose to:

  • offer regulated qualifications; or
  • operate under voluntary accreditation schemes (including trade/industry bodies); or
  • operate independently of any such accreditation scheme

What should I put in the first-aid box?

There is no mandatory list of items to put in a first-aid box. It depends on
what you assess your needs to be. As a guide, where work activities involve lowlevel hazards, a minimum stock of first-aid items would be:

  • a leaflet giving general guidance on first aid (for example HSE’s leaflet 'Basic advice on first aid at work')
  • individually wrapped sterile plasters (of assorted sizes), appropriate to the type of work (you can provide hypoallergenic plasters if necessary)
  • sterile eye pads
  • individually wrapped triangular bandages, preferably sterile
  • safety pins
  • large, individually wrapped, sterile, unmedicated wound dressings
  • medium-sized, individually wrapped, sterile, unmedicated wound dressings
  • disposable gloves

This is a suggested contents list only. The contents of any first-aid kit should reflect the outcome of your first-aid needs assessment.

It is recommended that you don’t keep tablets and medicines in the first-aid box.


Key legislation

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1982 as amended