First aid courses: Differences between FAW & EFAW

Understanding the vital differences: First aid at work vs. emergency first aid at work

Accidents can strike in the workplace anytime, emphasising the critical importance of trained individuals ready to respond swiftly. In this blog, Dr Richard Dune emphasises the two primary approaches to first aid provision in the UK: First Aid at Work (FAW) and Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW). Understanding their differences is crucial for ensuring workplace safety and compliance.

Key facts and importance

  • Workplace injuries and illnesses affect millions annually, highlighting the crucial role of prompt first aid in determining outcomes.
  • Effective first aid provision significantly reduces the severity of injuries and saves lives.
  • FAW and EFAW training provides employees with essential skills to respond confidently to diverse medical emergencies.

Key definitions

  • First Aid at Work (FAW) - Comprehensive training designed for workplace first aiders, covering various injuries and illnesses. It is suitable for higher-risk environments.
  • Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) - A condensed version of FAW training focusing on basic life-saving skills. EFAW is suitable for lower-risk environments or as a supplementary measure.

Relevant legislation, regulations, and best practice

  • Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 - Employers are legally obligated to provide adequate first aid facilities and trained personnel in the workplace.
  • Resuscitation Council UK - Provides guidelines on CPR and other life-saving techniques, essential components of first aid training.
  • Health and Safety Executive (HSE) - Offers detailed guidance on first aid provision in the workplace, including the selection and training of first aiders.
  • British Heart Foundation - Provides resources and training on CPR and defibrillator use, contributing to effective first aid practices.

Understanding the differences

  • Scope of training - FAW courses cover a broad spectrum of injuries and illnesses, including fractures, burns, and medical conditions. EFAW focuses on immediate life-saving interventions such as CPR and bleeding control.
  • Duration and intensity - FAW courses are more extensive, often spanning multiple days with in-depth practical sessions. EFAW courses are shorter, providing essential skills in a condensed format.
  • Workplace requirements - Employers must assess their workplace risks to determine whether FAW or EFAW training is appropriate. High-risk environments may necessitate FAW-trained personnel, while low-risk offices may opt for EFAW.

Legislation and compliance

  • Compliance with the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 is essential to meet legal obligations and ensure employee safety.
  • Adhering to guidelines from reputable sources such as the Resuscitation Council UK and HSE helps maintain best practices in first aid provision.


  • Conduct a thorough risk assessment of your workplace to determine the appropriate level of first aid training required.
  • Invest in accredited training providers to ensure quality instruction and compliance with regulatory standards.
  • Regularly review and update first aid procedures and training to align with evolving workplace risks and best practices.


Understanding the distinctions between First Aid at Work and Emergency First Aid at Work is crucial for employers committed to creating safe working environments. By providing appropriate training and resources, organisations can empower their employees to respond effectively to medical emergencies, ultimately saving lives.

Click here to ensure your workplace is adequately prepared for emergencies; explore our comprehensive first aid training courses today. Equip your team with the skills and confidence to respond effectively when it matters most.

About the author

Dr Richard Dune

With over 20 years of experience, Richard blends a rich background in NHS, the private sector, academia, and research settings. His forte lies in clinical R&D, advancing healthcare tech, workforce development and governance. His leadership ensures regulatory compliance and innovation align seamlessly.

First aid at work vs. emergency first aid at work - ComplyPlus™ - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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