The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 – updated 2015.
This article offers a brief synopsis of the key elements of the First Aid at Work The Health and Safety Regulations 1981 and outlines the key legal requirements and responsibilities for employers to comply with the law.
“The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 set out the essential aspects of first aid that employers have to address. This publication will help them to understand and comply with the Regulations and offers practical advice on what they need to do.
Employers have a legal duty to make arrangements to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work.
It doesn’t matter whether the injury or illness is caused by the work they do, what is important is that they receive immediate attention and that an ambulance is called in serious cases.
First aid can save lives and prevent minor injuries becoming major ones. First-aid provision in the workplace covers the arrangements that need to be made to manage injuries or illness suffered at work.”
Regulation 1 – Citation and commencement
These Regulations may be cited as the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 and shall come into operation on 1st July 1982.
Regulation 2 – Interpretation – outlines key terms
Regulation 3 – Duty of employer to make provision for first-aid
An employer has a duty of care to provide, or ensure that there are provided adequate and appropriate facilities and equipment to cater for his employees if they are injured or become ill at work.
An employer shall provide, or ensure that there is provided an adequate and appropriate number of suitably trained people to administer first-aid to his employees if they are injured or become ill at work.
If the suitable person is absent in temporary or exceptional circumstances and appointed person can be given the responsibility for First Aid provision in their absence. Holidays do not count as temporary absence and there should be provision for a sufficient number of trained personnel to be available to cover First Aid during all working hours on all sites.
A first-aid room must be easily accessible to stretchers and to any other equipment needed to convey patients to and from the room and be appropriately sign-posted to comply with regulation 4 of the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996.
“An employer should make an assessment of first-aid needs appropriate to the circumstances (hazards and risks) of each workplace.
The aim of first aid is to reduce the effects of injury or illness suffered at work, whether caused by the work itself or not. First-aid provision must be ‘adequate and appropriate in the circumstances’. This means that sufficient first-aid equipment, facilities and personnel should be available at all times, taking account of alternative working patterns, to:
- give immediate assistance to casualties with both common injuries or illnesses and those likely to arise from specific hazards at work;
- summon an ambulance or other professional help.”
“Where an employer provides first-aiders in the workplace, they should ensure they have undertaken suitable training, have an appropriate first-aid qualification and remain competent to perform their role. Typically, first-aiders will hold a valid certificate of competence in either first aid at work (FAW) or emergency first aid at work (EFAW). EFAW training enables a first-aider to give emergency first aid to someone who is injured or becomes ill while at work. FAW training includes EFAW and also equips the first-aider to apply first aid to a range of specific injuries and illnesses
In assessing their needs, employers should consider:
- the nature of the work and workplace hazards and risks;
- the nature of the workforce;
- the organisation’s history of accidents;
- the size of the organisation;
- the needs of travelling, remote and lone workers;
- work patterns;
- the distribution of the workforce;
- the remoteness of the site from emergency medical services;
- employees working on shared or multi-occupied sites;
- annual leave and other absences of first-aiders and appointed persons;
- first-aid provision for non-employees. “
Where the work involves higher level hazards such as chemicals or dangerous machinery, or special hazards such as hydrofluoric acid or confined spaces, first aid requirements will be greater.
Employers may then need to:
- provide sufficient numbers of qualified first-aiders so that someone is always available to give first aid immediately following an incident;
- provide additional training for first-aiders to deal with injuries resulting from special hazards;
- consider additional first-aid equipment;
- provide one or more first-aid rooms;
- inform the local emergency services, in writing, of the site where hazardous substances or processes are in use.
Nature of the workforce
“The particular needs of young workers, trainees, pregnant workers and employees with disabilities or particular health problems, where known (eg asthma, diabetes, peanut allergy, epilepsy or a history of heart disease), should be addressed (noting other relevant legislation accordingly).
It is essential that adequate provision is made to cover all times people are at work. Employers therefore need to ensure there is cover for annual leave or holiday and other planned absences of first-aiders or appointed persons. Employers should also consider what cover is needed for unplanned and exceptional absences such as sick leave or special leave due to bereavement.”
First-aid provision for non-employees
These Regulations do not require employers to provide first aid for anyone other than their own employees. However, many organisations, such as schools, places of entertainment, fairgrounds and shops, provide a service for others and it is strongly recommended that employers include non-employees in their assessment of first-aid needs and make provision for them. This may require firstaiders to receive additional training above the legal minimum requirement so that they are able to act competently, for example additional training in paediatric first aid if operating in a school.
“All employers, self-employed people and people in control of work premises have duties under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).
They must report certain work-related injuries, cases of ill health and dangerous occurrences. HSE will pass details to the relevant enforcing authority. RIDDOR applies to all work activities but not all incidents are reportable.”
It is also advised that people have an accident report book in which they record all incidents, this must be stored in line with the Data protection Act
First-aid materials, equipment and facilities
“When the assessment of first-aid requirements has been completed, the employer should provide the materials, equipment and facilities needed to make sure that the level of cover identified as necessary will be available to employees at all relevant times. This will include ensuring that first-aid equipment, suitably marked and easily accessible, is available in all places where working conditions require it.”
For an individual to demonstrate they have a competence in first aid they will hold a certificate that contains all of the following minimum information:
- name of training organisation;
- name of qualification;
- name of individual;
- a validity period for three years from date of course completion;
- an indication that the certificate has been issued for the purposes of complying with the requirements of the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981;
- a statement that teaching was delivered in accordance with currently accepted first-aid practice; and
- if the qualification is neither FAW nor EFAW, an outline of the topics covered (this may be on the reverse or as an appendix).
Additional training needs
When arranging FAW or EFAW or other equivalent training, employers should let the training organisation know of any particular hazards at their workplace so training can be tailored to meet those needs.
HSE strongly recommends that first-aiders undertake annual refresher training during any three-year FAW/EFAW certification period.
Employers should also encourage first-aiders to regularly review their course manual and any other instructional materials and allocate them time to do this. It will further help to maintain their first-aid skills.
Duty of employer to inform his employees of the arrangements made in connection with first-aid
An employer shall inform his employees of the arrangements that have been made in connection with the provision of first-aid, including the location of equipment, facilities and personnel. Information for employees
Duty of self-employed person to provide first-aid equipment
There is a legal requirement for a self-employed person to provide, or ensure provision of, adequate and appropriate equipment to administer first-aid to himself while he is at work.
The Document also includes an incredibly helpful chart to indicate which level of First Aid training is most suitable for which size and level of organisation and this can be found on page 33.