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A guide to providing first aid in your business

First aid is a big part of health of safety in the workplace. Getting it right involves a lot more than just making sure you have some plasters to hand, in case an employee has an accident.

This guide aims to help you know what to consider and the processes you should follow to ensure you provide the most effective first aid for your staff.  

A guide to providing first aid in your business

Legal requirements and first aid you should provide

As an employer, it is a legal requirement that you provide a minimal level of first-aid for your staff. This applies to all businesses, including those with five or less employees. It is to ensure that all employees receive the right immediate attention if they’re injured or taken ill at work.

Minimum level of first aid includes adequate and appropriate:

  • Materials, equipment and facilities
  • Personnel
  • Information for your staff about your first-aid arrangements

To know what you need, you should complete a first-aid needs assessment

First-aid needs assessment

The first-aid requirements of each business can be different. This is why it’s important to carry out an assessment of your first aid to see what equipment and personnel you might need. You should also provide your staff with information about your arrangements.

Carrying out a needs assessment involves assessing the hazards and risks in your company, and the size of your business. Assessing your company hazards and risks can be determined by carrying out a risk assessment.

First-aid arrangements

These are the arrangements you have put in place to ensure effective first aid in your company. It depends on the result of your first-aid needs assessment and the circumstances of your business at the time.  

Different business should have different arrangements in place, but at minimum you should have:

  • Suitably stocked first-aid box
  • Appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements
  • As mentioned, you should also provide information to your staff about the first-aid arrangements you’ve made

Minimum arrangements, like these, would apply to a low-risk workplace, such as an office. However, a high-risk business, like a manufacturer or factory, is likely to need a higher level of arrangements, such as additional equipment or first aiders – explained below.

You should also legally report and keep a record of any injuries and incidents and work-related diseases. If you employ more than ten people, or occupy certain types of premises, like a factory, you should also have an accident book. 

First-aid box

As part of your arrangements, the minimum level of equipment you should have in your business is a first-aid box or kit. Larger premises, like those with a warehouse or more than one site, should consider having more than one.

Each first-aid box should be:

  • Stocked with a sufficient quantity of first-aid materials suitable for your business
  • Easily accessible
  • Easily identifiable – displaying a white cross on a green background
  • Stored near to hand-washing facilities and protected from dust and damp
  • Checked frequently and restocked after use – it’s a good idea to keep sufficient supplies on site. Items should also be disposed of once they reach their expiry date

First-aid kit items

There isn’t a legal set of items you should include in a first-aid kit. It depends on your needs assessment, so it should reflect what needs you’ve addressed.

For a business with low-risk hazards, like an office, a minimum level of items could include:

  • Different sizes of individually wrapped sterile plasters
  • Individually wrapped bandages
  • Sterile eye pads
  • Safety pins
  • Wound dressing
  • Disposable gloves
  • A leaflet giving guidance on first aid

Depending on your company, you might also need additional equipment. This could include things like blankets, cleansing wipes and cutting shears, which can be stored in the kit or separately if there’s no room.

First-aid room

Businesses with larger premises, where greater hazards can happen on a daily basis, might need to provide a first-aid room. This should be used specifically for first aid purposes and include things like a medical couch and a wash basin, with hot or cold running water.

The room should be easily accessible, ideally positioned to provide easy access for transporting an employee to hospital, such as by ambulance. A member of staff should also be given responsibility for supervising the room.

Appointed person

You should also appoint an employee in your company to take charge of your first-aid arrangements. This is a minimum requirement if your needs assessment shows a first-aider is not necessary.

An appointed person is therefore not a first-aider (see below), so doesn’t need to have first-aid training. For this reason, they should not attempt to give first aid for which they haven’t been trained, such as CPR.

The role of the appointed person is instead to be responsible for:

  • Looking after your company’s first-aid facilities and equipment
  • Calling the emergency services whenever necessary

It’s important to mention that you should always have someone available in the workplace to take charge of your first-aid arrangements.


A first-aider is someone that has received an appropriate level of training by a competent first-aid training provider. In the event of a staff injury or emergency in your company workplace, they are able to attempt first aid, for which they’ve been trained, like CPR.

Depending on your company requirements, you might decide that you need a first-aider. If this is the case, you should ensure they receive the appropriate level of training.

Finding a first-aid training provider

There are different options available when it comes to finding a first-aid training provider. So you should select the option that’s most suitable for your requirements.

Levels of training typically involve either:

  • First aid at work (FAW) training
  • Emergency first aid at work (EFAW) training
  • Another level of first-aid training if indicated by your needs assessment

While HSE now doesn’t support any training options, your choice should comply with your health and safety regulations. There are different levels of due diligence that you might be required to follow. You should also check things the trainer’s qualifications, teaching practices, syllabus content, and certification.

In-house training

As an alternative to finding an external provider, you can provide first-aid training in your company.

However, amongst other things, you should make sure the training environment is fit for purpose and your training content is appropriate. You should also ensure your in-house trainers have the necessary skills and qualifications.   

How we can help provide first aid for your business

First aid is a key component of a business’s health and safety provision. At FSB, we aim to help our members by providing health and safety services to assist with things like first-aid and make sure they get it right. This includes access to:

  • Free health and safety facts sheets and documents, including for accident reporting and carrying out a risk assessment
  • Online training modules
  • Round-the-clock health and safety advice from key experts

To learn more about these services, please visit the FSB health and safety advice page or contact our dedicated team.

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