First Aid in the Workplace

Assess the needs

Employers must assess the need for first aid facilities and provide accordingly. This will include some training of key staff and purchase of some kits / equipment, depending upon the risks and scale of the business.

Qualified First Aiders

High-risk businesses and large establishments must arrange for some of their staff to be trained and qualify as first-aiders. As a guide, low risk premises such as shops and offices should have a fully trained first-aider if there are more than around 50 staff on site. Medium risk premises such as light engineering, food processing etc should have a fully trained first-aider if more than 20 staff. Additional first aiders should be available at the rate of one per 100 staff or part thereof. Extras will also be needed if there is a shift system or to cover for holidays / sickness absence. Suitable "HSE approved" courses (taking about 4 days) for first-aiders are run by several organisations, for example St. John Ambulance or British Red Cross Society.

The kit 

First-aid boxes are required in conveniently accessible positions for the first-aiders. The box or cupboard must be marked with a white cross on a square green background. The kit should contain a sufficient quantity of first-aid materials AND NOTHING ELSE. The box should not become cluttered with other "useful" items unconnected with first-aid (e.g. aspirins & candles) as this will slow down the search for the emergency items needed. Extra stock of the relevant items are also best kept nearby in a reserve cupboard rather than cluttering the emergency box. The kit should be checked and replenished frequently. It should contain enough equipment for the number of people being served and the type of establishment. 

For most small businesses this would be a kit costing about £30 containing at least the following:

  • One - Guidance leaflet which gives the official brief first-aid advice.
  • Twenty -  Plasters - assorted sterile individually wrapped adhesive dressings (N.B. food handlers must use the waterproof detectable blue type)
  • Two - Sterile eye pads with straps
  • Four -  Triangular bandages, individually wrapped
  • Six - Safety pins 
  • Six - Medium wound dressings -12cm by 12cm sterile, individually wrapped, unmedicated
  • Two - Large wound dressings -18cm by 18cm sterile, individually wrapped, unmedicated 
  • and, where mains tap water is not readily available, 
  • Ten -  Wipes - individually wrapped moist & sterile wipes and for eye irrigation:
  • One - Sterile water or sterile normal saline (0.9%) in sealed disposable bottles (at least 1 litre total)

Updated: 11 August 2009