At the end of last year, the HSE announced changes to the requirements on employers to provide first aid at work. Guidance on the new changes is now available on the HSE website at  

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to enable first aid to be given to employees if they are injured or become ill at work.  

What is “adequate” will depend on the circumstances in the workplace. Employers should carry out an assessment of first aid needs to determine this including:  

  • Are trained first aiders needed?
  • What should be included in a first aid box?  
  • Is a first aid room needed?  

The changes made by the HSE relate to first aid training. New training courses will be introduced from 1 October 2009. Employers will be able to send prospective first aiders on either:  

  • A full three day course in first aid at work, or
  • A one day course in emergency first aid at work.  

Selecting the appropriate course will depend on the circumstances of the workplace and will be informed by the findings of the employer’s first aid needs assessment.  

A three year certificate will be issued to those who successfully complete a course. During any certification period, first aiders should undertake annual refresher training to update their basic skills. At the end of this period, it will be necessary to re-qualify.  

Employers will not be required to retrain all their first aiders as soon as the implementation date is reached. First aiders with a valid first aid at work certificate will only enter the new arrangements when their certificate expires.  

However, employers need to be aware of the forthcoming changes so that they can make appropriate changes to their systems.