First aid at work

HSENI is responsible for the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1982 (as amended).

HSENI's responsibilities include:

  • reviewing and maintaining the regulations
  • reviewing guidance
  • enforcing the regulations
  • responding to requests for information and advice

First Aid at Work regulatory changes take effect

As of 31 October 2017 First Aid Regulations changed, removing the requirement for HSENI to approve first aid at work training and qualifications. Legislative change took effect at midnight on 30 October 2017 and HSENI approval of first aid at work training and qualifications ceased. 

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

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1982 have been amended to remove the requirement for HSENI to approve first aid at work training and qualifications. These new arrangements bring HSENI into line with procedures implemented by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in Great Britain.

Removing the HSENI approval process gives businesses greater flexibility to choose their own training providers and first aid at work training that is right for their workplace, based on their needs assessment and their individual business needs.

Employers still have a legal duty to make arrangements to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work.

HSENI will continue to set the standards for training. While the changes give employers flexibility, the one day Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) and three day First Aid at Work (FAW) courses remain the building blocks for first aid at work training.

As part of these changes, the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) has been replaced by HSE's guidance. The advice in the guidance sets out clearly the recommended practical actions needed, and the standards to be achieved, to ensure compliance with duties under the HSENI 1982 Regulations as amended in 2017.

Certificate of Approval for HSENI First Aid at Work (FAW) and Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) training providers

Approvals to undertake First Aid at Work training expired on 30 October 2017. This applies to previously approved HSENI First Aid training providers. "HSENI Approval" should no longer be cited on training providers' websites or documents.

However, certificates issued to individuals by these providers will still be valid for 3 years from date of issue.

First Aid at Work training providers

An employer will still need to make an assessment of their first aid needs to establish what provision for first aid is required. This will depend upon the workplace, taking into account, among other things, the number of employees, size, location and work activity.

HSENI has adopted HSE's guidance which is available on the HSE first aid webpages and can be accessed using the following link:

This guidance helps employers identify and select competent training providers and makes it clear that first aid at work 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

The changes are particularly advantageous where individual or specialist training may be required due to the work activity, for example in the outdoor education industry, where employers will be able to choose the most appropriate specialist provider to meet their identified training needs - and potentially avoid duplication in training.

All training providers will need to be able, and should be prepared, to demonstrate how they satisfy the criteria set by HSENI. Clarity in this area will be beneficial to both employers and first aid at work training providers.

Offshore first-aid at work

Lists of approved training organisations covering offshore first aid and offshore medic courses (in addition to FAW/EFAW) are available on the HSE (GB) website at the following link:

UK resuscitation guidance 2015

The following link provides information on important changes from the Resuscitation Council:

First Aid Training – change in HSENI’s role FAQs

The following link provides answers to some frequently asked questions regarding the change in HSENI’s role.

What employers should consider when assessing first aid needs

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.

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.

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(external link opens in a new window / tab)')
  • 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.

Resources

Information and guidance can also be found on the HSE website at the following link:

More information

If you have any queries please contact HSENI EMAS at the following email address:

Key legislation

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

Please note that these links are to the original legislation, visitors should verify for themselves whether legislation is in force or whether it has been amended or repealed by subsequent legislation.