First Aid Requirements


5 First Aid Requirements at Work

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people are injured or fall ill at work. As a result of this, it is essential that every employer ensures that their employees receive adequate first aid. First aid provisions should protect the workers and limit the impact that an injury or illness has on them.

In this article, we will look at five things every employer must do to ensure that they have adequate first aid provisions and are prepared to deliver first aid to their staff.

First Aid at Work: Understand the law

The first thing that any employer should do when making their first aid arrangements is ensure that they understand the requirements of the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981.

These regulations require all employers, including the self-employed and those with less than five employees, to provide 'adequate and appropriate' equipment, facilities and personnel so that, in the event of an employee becoming injured or ill at work, they can receive immediate first aid in the workplace.

What is considered to be 'adequate and appropriate' will vary between workplaces. For example, a small office of four people may only require one first aider and one first aid box, while a large construction site with 300 employees is likely to require a significantly greater number of both, as well as a dedicated first aid room.

For more information on first aid law, click here to view the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)'s guidance on the aforementioned Regulations.

First Aid at Work: Complete a first aid needs assessment

In order to work out the first aid provisions they need, an employer should complete an assessment of their first aid needs. It is important that this assessment is thorough, so the HSE recommend considering:

  • The nature of the work, workplace and workforce.
  • The organisation’s history of accidents.
  • The size of the organisation.
  • Whether there are any travelling, remote or lone workers.
  • What the work patterns in place are.
  • How the workforce is distributed.
  • How easy it is to get to emergency medical services from the site.
  • Whether employees work on shared or multi-occupied sites.
  • How many people are required to cover annual leave and other absences of first aiders and appointed persons.
  • Whether provisions for non-employees are required. It is important to note that this is not required by law, but the HSE strongly recommend that they are in place.

More information on what to consider when completing a needs assessment can be found on the HSE website.

First Aid at Work: Check the first aid kit

Every employer must, at the very least, provide a suitably stocked first aid kit that its employees can use. There is no defined list of items that this kit should contain, with its contents instead being defined by the aforementioned needs assessments.

The HSE has produced the following list that can be used as a guide to understand what, at the very least, should be in a first aid kit in a low-risk environment:

  • A leaflet providing general guidance on first aid.
  • 20 individually wrapped sterile plasters (of assorted sizes), appropriate to the type of work.
  • Two sterile eye pads.
  • Four individually wrapped sterile triangular bandages.
  • Six safety pins.
  • Two large, individually wrapped, sterile, unmedicated wound dressings.
  • Six medium-sized, individually wrapped, sterile, unmedicated wound dressings.
  • At least three pairs of disposable gloves.

Again, this list is a guide and is not exhaustive - the actual first aid equipment an employer provides should be decided upon after completing a thorough needs assessment.

First Aid at Work: Choose first aiders

It may be the case that a first aid needs assessment identifies a need for first aiders and people who can take charge of first aid operations to be present in the workplace. If so, it is important that those chosen to become trained first aiders are suitable for the role.

Some key things to consider when choosing first aiders include a person's:

  • Reliability and communication skills.
  • Ability to learn new skills.
  • Ability to remain calm in a potentially stressful emergency situation.
  • Ability to cope with physically demanding emergency procedures.
  • Normal duties, and whether they would prevent them from responding immediately and rapidly to an emergency.

First Aid at Work: Select the correct training

Before they can act as a first aider, a person must complete an appropriate first aid training course. There are two main types of first aid course:

  • Emergency First Aid at Work: This is a one-day course that covers the essential skills that a first aider needs.
  • First Aid at Work: This is a three-day course that provides prospective first aiders with the knowledge and skills required to work in a high-risk environment, such as a construction site.

It is important to note that there are additional courses that a person can take that will allow them to act as a first aider, which are usually designed for specialist roles or situations. For help selecting an appropriate training course, click here to visit the relevant section of the British Red Cross website.


At Commodious, we offer a First Aid Awareness course. It is designed to provide all staff members with information on first aid law and what to do in an emergency, but it does not allow a person to act as a first aider.

Use the link below to find out more about this course: