What are my employer's first aid responsibilities?

Employers' duties are set out in the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, together with the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP). The Regulations require an employer to "make an assessment of first aid needs appropriate to the circumstances of each workplace" (Reg. 4).

Employers must provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to enable first aid to be given to workers if they are injured or become ill at work.

The Regulations apply to all workplaces, including those with five or fewer employees, and to the self-employed. Although the legislation does not require employers to provide first aid for members of the public – for example visitors – the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) strongly recommends that their needs are taken into account when planning first aid.

What counts as 'adequate' first aid provision depends on circumstances in the workplace. The minimum first aid provision is:

  • a first aid box; and
  • an 'appointed person' to take charge of first aid arrangements.

First aid provision must be available at all times whenever people are at work.

There have been new First Aid Regulations since 1 October 2013 and there is no longer a requirement for HSE to approve first aid training and qualifications. HSE has published guidance on the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 (priced £15) and also on the selection of first aid training providers .