What is first aid at work?

First aid at work: Essential knowledge and best practices

First aid at work is not only a regulatory requirement; it is a vital skill that could mean the difference between life and death. Adequate first aid provision within the workplace not only saves lives but also significantly reduces the severity of any injury sustained by an employee. In this blog, Rose explores the key facts about workplace first aid, delves into the relevant legislation and best practices, and provides actionable recommendations to ensure your organisation remains compliant and your workforce is protected.

The importance of first aid at work - Key facts and statistics

Every year in the UK, thousands of work-related injuries and health emergencies occur, necessitating immediate and effective first aid response. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), during the year 2021/22, there were 441,000 non-fatal injuries and 123 workers killed at work. These statistics highlight the critical need for robust first aid measures in the workplace.

Key definitions

  • First Aid at Work (FAW) - This involves the assistance given to any person suffering a sudden illness or injury, with care provided to preserve life, prevent the condition from worsening, or promote recovery. It includes initial intervention in a serious condition before professional medical help is available, such as performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and controlling severe bleeding.
  • Appointed person - An individual who takes charge when someone is injured or falls ill, including calling an ambulance if required. This person is not required to have formal training if they are not responsible for more specific first aid duties.

Relevant legislation and regulations

In the UK, the main legislation governing first aid at work is the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981. These regulations mandate 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. Key elements include:

  • Assessment of first aid needs - Employers are required to assess their first aid needs based on workplace hazards and risks.
  • First aid training and personnel - The number of trained first-aiders, their level of training, and the provision of first aid kits tailored to the nature of the work.

The regulations are supported by guidance from the HSE, which helps employers implement these requirements effectively.

Best practice in first aid at work

Following best practices in first aid can significantly enhance the effectiveness of workplace medical emergency management:

  • Regular training - Ensure that first aiders receive regular, updated training on procedures such as CPR and using an automated external defibrillator (AED).
  • Clear signage - Effective signage of first aid equipment, facilities, and personnel contact details should be maintained at all times.
  • Regular drills - Conduct regular first aid drills to keep first aiders and employees prepared for an actual emergency.


  • Conduct an audit - Regularly review and update your first aid needs assessment to ensure compliance and relevance.
  • Invest in quality training - Use accredited programmes to train your first aiders, ensuring they possess up-to-date knowledge and skills.
  • Engage your team - Promote awareness and basic first aid training for all employees, creating a safer workplace environment.


First aid at work is a critical aspect of workplace safety that requires ongoing attention and commitment from all levels of an organisation. By adhering to legal standards and best practices, you can create a safe environment that not only meets regulatory requirements but also fosters a culture of safety and care.

Enhance workplace safety today

Ensure your workplace is prepared to handle any medical emergency. Click here to enrol in our first aid at work online training courses and qualifications. Be prepared. Save lives.

About the author

Rose Mabiza

Rose has dedicated over 15 years to improving health and social care quality through practice, targeted education and training. Her extensive experience includes working with older adults, individuals with mental health conditions, and people with autism and learning disabilities.

Essential knowledge and best practices - ComplyPlus™ - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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