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First Aid at Work

First Aid, First Aiders and First Aid Boxes

Definition of first aid

If people at work suffer an injury or fall ill (regardless of whether it is work related) it is important 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 at work covers the arrangements that need to be made to ensure this happens, that is, the initial management of any injury or illness suffered at work. It does not include giving tablets or medicines to treat illness. The law does not prevent staff who are specially trained to take action beyond the initial management stage from doing so.

What are the legal requirements?

The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 require employers to provide such equipment and facilities as are adequate and appropriate in the circumstances for enabling first-aid to be given to employees if they are injured or become ill at work. What is adequate and appropriate depends on the specific characteristics of the business and therefore an assessment must be carried out to determine these. Such an assessment should be reviewed from time-to-time, particularly after any operating changes, to ensure that the provision remains appropriate.

The minimum requirement for all workplaces is:

  • A suitably stocked first aid kit
  • An appointed person to take charge of first aid arrangements
  • First aid provision must be available at all times when people are at work

Where can I get information?

The free leaflet Basic advice on first aid at work (IND(G)215l 1997) is published by HSE Books. Single free copies are available from HSE Books. More detailed practical guidance on complying with your first aid at work duties has been published by the Health and Safety Commission First aid at work; Approved Code of Practice and Guidance L74 1997 (ISBN 0 7176 1050 0) a free copy of each can be downloaded from the HSE website.

Updated: 11 Nov 2014
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