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First aid at work

Firms need to have suitable first-aid arrangements in the workplace and need to consider what health and safety risks may be at the premises. Most smaller places will only really need a first-aid box and a designated person to take charge of first aid arrangements. An appointed person in this way does not need to have specific first-aid training. The employer would need to provide all employees with details of the first-aid arrangements.

Employer responsibilities

The employer is responsible for making sure that employees receive immediate attention if they are taken ill or are injured at work. The arrangements will depend to some extent on the circumstances of the workplace and the outcome of any first-aid needs requirement. However, employers need to have at least:

  • A fully stocked first-aid box
  • An appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements
  • Information for all employees giving details of first-aid arrangements

Appointed person

An appointed person is basically someone to take charge of first-aid arrangements. This person will be responsible for all first-aid issues and for calling the emergency services if needed. They can also provide cover if a first-aider is out of the office for some reason. They are not necessary where there are an adequate number of first-aiders within the company.

Self-employed and small companies

All self-employed workers and employers who have fewer than 25 staff also have to appoint someone to take change of first-aid arrangements. They will need to ensure they have adequate and appropriate equipment to provide sufficient first aid while at work. This will vary according to the situation. So someone working from home or from a rented office should have an individual first-aid kit. If the self-employed worker works on shared premises they are legally responsible for their own first-aid arrangements.

The British Red Cross recommends that all self-employed workers consider three-day first aid at work courses or a one-day emergency first-aid at work course. Both these courses satisfy the legal requirements for an appointed person, but are also approved by the Health and Safety Executive.


Being responsible for first aid at work does not usually involve giving out tablets or medicines although there are exceptions to this general rule. For instance, if the appointed person suspects that someone is having a heart attack, they may, with permission, give aspirin. Also, if somebody is suffering anaphylactic shock an appointed first-aider may treat them using Epipen if:

  1. They believe they are dealing with a life-threatening situation.
  2. The person having the shock has been prescribed and is in possession of Epipen.
  3. The appointed first-aider has been suitably trained in Epipen use.