First aid needs assessment
HSE cannot tell you what provision you should make for first aid. You, as an employer, are best placed to understand the exact nature of your workplace and decide what you need to provide.
First aid provision must be 'adequate and appropriate in the circumstances'. This means that you must provide sufficient first aid equipment (first aid kit), facilities and personnel at all times.
In order to decide what provision you need to make you should undertake a first-aid needs assessment. This assessment should consider the circumstances of your workplace, workforce and the hazards and risks that may be present. The findings will help you decide what first-aid arrangements you need to put in place.
In assessing your first-aid needs, you should consider:
- the nature of the work you do
- workplace hazards and risks (including specific hazards requiring special arrangements)
- the nature and size of your workforce
- the work patterns of your staff
- holiday and other absences of those who will be first-aiders and appointed persons
- your organisation's history of accidents
You may also need to consider:
- the needs of travelling, remote and lone workers
- the distribution of your workforce
- the remoteness of any of your sites from emergency medical services
- whether your employees work on shared or multi-occupancy sites
- first-aid provision for non-employees (eg members of the public).
HSE has published further guidance on all the factors above that will help you carry out your first-aid needs assessment.
Mental ill health and first aid
Following your employers' first aid needs assessment; you might decide that it will be beneficial to have personnel trained to identify and understand symptoms and able to support someone who might be experiencing a mental health issue.
You should consider ways to manage mental ill health in your workplace which are appropriate for your business, such as providing information or training for managers and employees, employing occupational health professionals, appointing mental health trained first aiders and implementing employee support programmes.
First aid training courses covering mental health, teach delegates how to recognise warning signs of mental ill health and help them to develop the skills and confidence to approach and support someone, while keeping themselves safe.
There is a wide range of training providers offering mental health awareness or first aid training and details of available training that best meets the needs of your organisation can be found by conducting a simple internet search.
See further information on managing workplace stress and mental health issues.
You may also wish to consider our suite of case studies, containing scenario-based examples of first-aid needs assessments for a variety of workplaces. They demonstrate the general principles involved in deciding on the provision you should make for first aid, but you should not assume the outcomes shown are directly transferable to your workplace.
You do not need to record the findings of your needs assessment, but you may find it useful to do so, as it will demonstrate how you have decided on the first-aid provision that you make.
The minimum requirement in terms of personnel is to appoint a person to take charge of first-aid arrangements. The roles of this appointed person include looking after the first-aid equipment and facilities and calling the emergency services when required. The appointed person can also provide emergency cover, within their role and competence, where a first-aider is absent due to unforeseen circumstances. An appointed person is not required to have any formal training.
If your workplace has more significant health and safety risks, for example you use machinery or hazardous materials then you are more likely to need a trained first-aider.
There are no hard and fast rules on exact numbers, and you will need to take into account all the relevant circumstances of your particular workplace.