In the event of injury or sudden illness, failure to provide first aid could result in a casualty’s death. The employer should ensure that an employee who is injured or taken ill at work receives immediate attention. HSE will prosecute in cases where there is a significant risk, a disregard for established standards or persistent poor compliance with the law. More information can be found in 'HSE's Enforcement Policy Statement'

Employers’ legal duties

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work. These Regulations apply to all workplaces including those with less than five employees and to the self-employed. Detailed information can be found in First aid at work. The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981. Approved Code of Practice and guidance[2].

What is ‘adequate and appropriate’ will depend on the circumstances in the workplace. This includes whether trained first-aiders are needed, what should be included in a first-aid box and if a first-aid room is required. Employers should carry out an assessment of first-aid needs to determine what to provide.

Assessment of first-aid needs

Employers are required to carry out an assessment of first-aid needs. This involves consideration of workplace hazards and risks, the size of the organisation and other relevant factors, to determine what first-aid equipment, facilities and personnel should be provided.

The minimum first-aid provision on any work site is:

  • a suitably stocked first-aid box;
  • an appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements
  • information for employees about first-aid arrangements.

It is important to remember that accidents and illness can happen at any time. First-aid provision needs to be available at all times people are at work The number of first aiders that the HSE recommend are as follows