Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981

These regulations place a duty on employers to make adequate first aid provision for their employees, in case they become ill or injured at work.

The associated Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) expands on this, giving details of what is classed as adequate.

The regulations themselves are very general and the main provisions are contained within regulations 3 and 4:

Regulation 3 (1) requires provision of 'such equipment and facilities as are adequate and appropriate in the circumstances for enabling first-aid to be rendered to his employees if they are injured or become ill at work.'

Regulation 3 (2) requires provision of an adequate number of trained personnel to render this first-aid.

Regulation 3 (3) allows for competent persons to cover for temporary and exceptional absences of trained first-aiders. These are known as 'Appointed Persons'.

Regulation 4 requires employers to inform their employees of the arrangements made for first-aid, 'including the location of equipment, facilities and personnel.'

Number of first aiders

There are no set limits for numbers - this must be decided after considering:

  • nature of work and levels of risk involved
  • size and location of workplace and distance from medical facilities;
    hours of work

However, the ACoP suggests that the number should never be less than 1 trained first aider for every 50 employees.

Where shiftwork or long hours are worked, adequate cover must be provided throughout the working period.

To be classed as a trained first aider, they must have undertaken a course approved by the HSE, and any necessary refresher training.

Where there are specific hazards, which are outside of the normal approved syllabus, it is the employers responsibility to ensure that necessary additional training and facilities are available.

Examples are a danger of poisoning by certain substances, burns from hydrofluoric acid or the need for oxygen as an adjunct to resuscitation.

Appointed persons are not required to have any formal first aid training - though it is a good idea for them to have received training in emergency first aid procedures.

The ACoP makes it quite clear that foreseeable absences, such as planned annual leave, do not qualify as 'exceptional and temporary circumstances' under regulation 3(3).

First aid boxes, kits and rooms

The ACoP and Guidance contains clear details of what should be contained within first aid kits. It also lays down when employers should consider provision of a first aid room, and the additional equipment that this would require.

Find out more about first aid on the Health and Safety Executive website.

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