Are you a first-aider?

This guidance is written to reflect the optional four-layer framework for first-aid provision that has been in place for many years. The framework will help employers to comply with the Regulations by providing 'off-the-peg' levels of provision. These layers are:

  • appointed person (AP)
  • emergency first aid at work (EFAW)
  • first aid at work (FAW)
  • additional training

You may choose not to use this optional framework and use an alternative means to demonstrate compliance with your needs assessment. The thinking behind this guidance, however, applies equally to whatever level of training you choose (unless alternative guidance is provided for specific instances).

What is a first-aider?

A first-aider is someone who has undertaken training appropriate to the circumstances. They must hold a valid certificate of competence in either:

  • first aid at work
  • emergency first aid at work
  • any other level of training or qualification that is appropriate to the circumstances

Employers can use the findings of their first-aid needs assessment to decide the appropriate level to which first-aiders should be trained.

  • Emergency first aid at work (EFAW) training enables a first-aider to give emergency first aid to someone who is injured or becomes ill while at work.
  • First aid at work training includes the EFAW syllabus and also equips the first-aider to apply first aid to a range of specific injuries and illness. 

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

Certificates for the purposes of first aid at work last for three years. Before their certificates expire, first-aiders will need to undertake a requalification course as appropriate, to obtain another three-year certificate. Once certificates have expired the first aider is no longer considered to be competent to act as a workplace first aider.

How many first-aiders does an employer need?

The findings of an employer's first-aid needs assessment will help them decide how many first-aiders are required. There are no hard and fast rules on exact numbers and they will need to take into account all the relevant circumstances of their particular workplace.

The table in the leaflet First aid at work: your questions answered, provides general guidance on how many first-aiders or appointed persons might be needed.

Can legal action be taken against first-aiders?

It is very unlikely that any action would be taken against a first-aider who was using the first-aid training they have received. HSE cannot give any specific advice on this issue as it does not fall within HSE's statutory powers.

It is recommended that you seek legal advice, or advice from your employer's insurance brokers on whether their policies cover first-aiders' liability.

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