Arrangements for first aid on University premises

Summary of changes

The revision of the First Aid Regulations has now removed the requirement for HSE to approve first aid training and qualifications. This change is reflected in sections 4 and 5 of the revised policy statement, and the background to this change follows.


  1. Introduction

This policy describes the arrangements departments[1] must put in place to give immediate help to those who may, for any reason, fall ill or be injured at work. It covers the assessment of first aid needs, provision of first aid personnel and equipment, and training.

[1] For the purposes of brevity in this policy, the term departments should be taken to include units

2. Assessment of first aid needs

The law requires employers to make adequate and appropriate first aid provision. Because of the diversity of working environments in the University, departments must make their own needs assessments and determine what is adequate and appropriate to their circumstances.

The minimum provision for any department is

(a)       a suitably stocked first aid container

(b)       an Appointed Person to take charge of first aid arrangements

(c)       information for employees on first aid arrangements.

In low risk environments, such as office-based departments employing small numbers of people, there is unlikely to be a need for more than the minimum provision. For larger departments, or those engaged in higher risk activities, then further provision will be required and the checklist in Appendix 1 should be used to help with the assessment.

A telephone should always be available for making 999 calls (any telephone on the University network can do this regardless of barring arrangements).

3. First aid materials and equipment

The assessment of first aid needs should have identified suitable and sufficient materials and equipment. The minimum level is a suitably stocked and identified first aid container, but sufficient numbers of these must be provided to ensure first aid materials are easily accessible to those who require them. Containers should protect their contents from dirt and damp and should be marked with a white cross on a green background.

(a)       Contents of first aid containers

The minimum content is described in Appendix 2. Additional quantities or additional items may be required, as identified by the assessment of first aid needs. Only items useful for first aid should be kept in the container and it should not be used for storing tablets or medicines.

A named individual, normally a First Aider or Appointed Person, should be nominated to regularly check and maintain the first aid container.  Individuals should inform this person if any items are taken from the container.

(b)       Tablets and medicines

Administering tablets and medicines is outside of the scope of first aid, except where first aiders have been taught to administer aspirin in treating suspected heart attacks.

Where individuals use prescription medicines (e.g. tablets or inhalers) first aiders’ training limits them to helping individuals administer the medication themselves and summoning medical assistance where necessary.

(c)       Defibrillators

In some areas of the University the assessment has indicated the need for an automated external defibrillator (AED). Increasingly, other departments have also elected to purchase an AED, on the basis that they are now considered to be a standard item of first aid equipment. Although most modern automatic AEDs are virtually maintenance free and are designed to be used by untrained individuals in emergency situations, the provision of suitable training is highly desirable, and an approach endorsed by the Safety Office. Further information on training providers is given in section 5.

AEDs, where provided, should be centrally located and easily accessed in an emergency. Departments must record the location of the AED and describe its maintenance arrangements in their statement of safety organisation, just as they document their other first aid arrangements.

(d)       First aid kits for travellers or field workers

A suggested minimum contents list is given in Appendix 2.

(e)       First aid rooms

It is unlikely that any University department will need a first aid room. The University Safety Office should be consulted where a department believes they have identified such a need.

4. First aid personnel

There are three categories of first aid personnel and the needs assessment should identify which is appropriate to the department’s circumstances. It should also identify how many are needed and where they are located.

(a)       Appointed Person

Where the assessment identifies that a first aider is not necessary, then the minimum legal requirement is for an Appointed Person. Their role is to take charge of the situation if illness or injury occurs, to call the emergency services if required, and to look after first aid equipment. Although there is no legal requirement to train Appointed Persons, basic first aid training and periodic retraining is available (e.g. from the Red Cross) and is recommended.

Note that Appointed Persons are not first aiders – they should not give first aid for which they have not been trained. 

(b)       First aiders

First aiders must have undertaken a suitable course of training from a competent training provider, and hold a valid certificate of competence.

From 1 October 2009 two types of first aid qualification may be obtained.

                               (i)   Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW)

The needs assessment may indicate that it is sufficient for first aiders to hold the EFAW qualification. This requires a minimum of six contact hours of training, but no final practical assessment is needed for the award of the qualification. Qualifications are valid for three years, although annual refresher training is highly recommended in order to ensure first aiders maintain basic skills and keep up to date with the latest first aid procedures.

On qualification EFAW Certificate holders should be able to:

  • understand the role of the first aider, including

- the importance of preventing cross infection

- the need for recording incidents and actions

- use of the available equipment

  • assess the situation and circumstances in order to act safely, promptly and effectively in an emergency
  • administer first aid to a casualty who is unconscious (this includes dealing with seizures)
  • administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • administer first aid to a casualty who is choking
  • administer first aid to a casualty who is wounded and bleeding
  • administer first aid to a casualty who is suffering from shock
  • provide appropriate first aid for minor injuries (including small cuts, grazes and bruises, minor burns and scalds, small splinters).

                              (ii)   First Aid at Work (FAW) qualification

Where the needs assessment indicates a higher level of risk then it is appropriate to appoint first aiders with a FAW qualification. This involves at least 18 contact hours (a minimum of three days) of training followed by practical assessment, and leads to the award of the FAW Certificate. Qualifications are valid for three years, although annual refresher training is highly recommended in order to ensure first aiders maintain basic skills and keep up to date with the latest first aid procedures.

On qualification FAW Certificate holders should be able to:

  • provide emergency first aid at work (see preceding section)
  • administer first aid to a casualty with

- injuries to bones, muscles and joints, including suspected spinal injuries

- chest injuries

- burns and scalds

- eye injuries

- sudden poisoning

- anaphylactic shock

  • recognise the presence of major illness and provide appropriate first aid (including heart attack, stroke, epilepsy, asthma, diabetes).

(c)       Other first aid providers

Provided they have current knowledge and skills, the following classes of persons may also administer first aid at work

                               (i)   doctors registered with the General Medical Council

                              (ii)   nurses registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council

                             (iii)   paramedics registered with the Health Professions Council.

5. First aid training

First aid courses no longer have to be approved by the HSE but training providers must be able to demonstrate that courses meet all the criteria previously set by them.

Such providers will include:

  • those who choose to offer regulated qualifications (first aid qualifications regulated by Ofqual, SQA and the Welsh Government)
  • those who operate under voluntary approval schemes e.g. trade or industry bodies with quality assurance schemes accredited by a third party (e.g. UKAS)
  • training providers who operate independently of any such scheme but who choose to demonstrate their competence by providing evidence that they meet the criteria set out by HSE
  • any of the Voluntary Aid Societies (St John Ambulance, British Red Cross and St Andrew’s First Aid).

Further information on the selection of suitable training providers is given in the HSE publication:

‘Selecting a first-aid training provider, a guide for employers’, which is free to download from the HSE website at:

Contained within the guidance there are a number of checklists that departments may find useful when reviewing the competence of potential training organisations.

6. Specialist first aid training

Where the first aid needs assessment indicates that further specialist training is required (e.g. for treating chemical burns, or administering oxygen) then the University Occupational Health Service should be consulted. Courses in emergency first aid for fieldworkers are available free of charge as part of the Safety Office’s training programme. The Safety Office can also organise two-hour Workplace Resuscitation courses (at cost) for departments that wish to offer basic first aid training more widely.

7. Information for employees and others

All employees need to know the location of first aid equipment (including AEDs) and personnel. Induction training for new staff and students should include this information, which should also be available on notices posted in prominent locations throughout the department. Where work takes place out of the hours when first aiders would normally be present, information on obtaining help from University Security Services must also be made readily available.

8. Action required

Departmental safety officers should work with their administrators to review the first aid needs of their departments. They should record the findings of their needs assessment and review them at regular intervals (e.g. as part of the annual departmental safety inspection).



October 2013         

J Black


UPS S4/14 Appendix 1 (50kb)

UPS S4/14 Appendix 2 (37kb)