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Selection of a competent first aid training organisation

Since 1 October 2013 HSE no longer approves first aid training and qualifications – and no longer approves first aid training organisations. This means that businesses have more flexibility in how they manage their provision of first aid in the workplace.

This means that it is the employer’s duty to ensure that any training provider that they select for the purposes of first aid training is competent to deliver that training.

Needs assessment

An employer will 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. 

The findings of your first-aid needs assessment may identify that trained first aiders are required. There are no hard and fast rules on exact numbers of trained first aiders you will require, and you will need to take into account all the relevant circumstances of your particular workplace.

What an employer needs to do

As an employer there are a number of options open to you when selecting a training provider.  You should select the most appropriate for your requirements.

Depending on your choice you will need to undertake varying levels of due diligence (reasonable enquiry or investigation) into how a provider will deliver the training you require.

HSE cannot advise on the quality of individual training providers or the service they provide. Similarly HSE cannot advise on the standard of Quality Assurance systems that a training provider may have in place.

Criteria expected of first aid training providers

HSE has produced guidance on selecting a first aid training provider that sets out the criteria that a competent training provider should be able to demonstrate.

These criteria include:

Options in selection of a first aid training provider

Training is available from a wide range of providers including:

Where additional or specialist training may be required due to the work activity, for example in the outdoor education industry, 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 HSE. Clarity in this area will be beneficial to both employers and first aid training providers. However, the Health and Safety at Work Act clearly places a duty on the employer to select a competent training provider.

Regulated qualifications

Regulated qualifications are nationally recognised and can be obtained from a training centre for an ‘awarding organisation’ (AO).

These AOs are recognised by qualification regulators (Ofqual, SQA or the Welsh Government). Ofqual is the regulator of qualifications, examinations and assessments in England. SQA (the Scottish Qualifications Authority) and the Welsh Government carry out similar functions in Scotland and Wales.

A number of AOs award qualifications specifically for the purposes of first aid at work and emergency first aid at work.

These AOs have dedicated policies and quality assurance processes and must approve and monitor their training centres to ensure training meets a certain standard. Regulators stipulate that AOs and their training centres must work in compliance with the Assessment Principles for First Aid Qualifications (which can be found on the Skills for Health website) and other key criteria, including the competence of trainers and assessors and the content of quality assurance systems.

Further guidance on selecting a first aid training provider is also available.