Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981

Understanding first aid regulations and best practices in the workplace

In today’s fast-paced work environments, the importance of first aid readiness cannot be overstated. Ensuring that employees are prepared to handle health emergencies is not just a matter of following legal guidelines—it's about safeguarding wellbeing and potentially saving lives. In this blog, Dr Richard Dune explores the crucial aspects of first aid regulations and guidelines, offering insights into how businesses can stay compliant while promoting a safe and responsive workplace.

Key facts and statistics

  • Approximately 30% of workplaces in the UK have never conducted a first aid needs assessment, potentially putting employees at risk (Health and Safety Executive, 2023).
  • Research indicates that the proper use of tourniquets improves survival rates in severe limb traumas by as much as 85%.
  • Studies reveal that prompt first aid response can reduce recovery time and decrease the likelihood of permanent injury or severe health outcomes.

Key definitions

  • First aid - Emergency care or treatment is given to an ill or injured person before regular medical aid can be obtained.
  • First aid needs assessment - A process by which an employer identifies what first aid arrangements are appropriate for the workplace based on the specific conditions and potential risks present.

Legislation and regulations

The primary legislation governing first aid in UK workplaces is the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981. These regulations require employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities, and personnel to ensure employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work. Compliance is monitored by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which provides detailed guidance on how to assess first aid needs and implement effective first aid measures.

Conducting a first aid needs assessment

To determine your workplace’s first aid requirements, consider factors such as the number of employees, the nature of the work conducted, and previous accident history. This assessment should be reviewed regularly and following any significant changes in the workplace.

Training and resources

Training employees in first aid not only complies with legal requirements but also builds a culture of safety and responsiveness. Opt for accredited courses that cover a range of emergencies tailored to the specific risks identified in your needs assessment.

Regular audits and updates

First aid procedures and kits should be audited annually to ensure they meet current standards and are capable of addressing new risks that might arise from changes in the workplace environment or processes.

Recommendations and relevant best practices

  • Ensure that a sufficient number of employees are trained in first aid techniques, including CPR and the use of defibrillators.
  • Maintain well-stocked first aid kits and ensure they are easily accessible throughout the workplace.
  • Clear policies - Develop and communicate clear first aid policies that include procedures for dealing with different types of emergencies.
  • Assess and adapt - Regularly update your first aid protocols to reflect new risks and changes within your organisation.
  • Empower employees - Encourage a proactive approach to first aid training, empowering employees to handle medical emergencies confidently.
  • Stay informed - Subscribe to updates from the HSE and relevant professional bodies to stay abreast of changes to first aid regulations and best practices.


Implementing robust first aid practices is not just about regulatory compliance; it's a critical component of workplace safety that protects employees and contributes to a more supportive, aware organisational culture. By staying informed and prepared, you can ensure that your workplace is equipped to handle any medical emergency efficiently and effectively.

Are you confident in your organisation’s first aid readiness? Click here and explore our range of accredited first aid training courses and qualifications designed to help you meet and exceed regulatory requirements. Equip your team with the knowledge and skills they need to respond confidently in emergencies—because when it comes to health and safety, preparation is key.

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.

Understanding first aid regulations and best practices in the workplace - ComplyPlus™ - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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