First aid requirements within a small business

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First aid Box on a wood surface

Every business must have appropriate and adequate first-aid provision. Having a suitably stocked and properly identified first-aid kit allows people to take immediate action if a colleague is injured in the workplace. Although, legally, businesses do not need to employ a qualified first-aider, appointing someone to take charge of all first-aid arrangements is strongly recommended within smaller companies.


Depending on the needs of the business and the industry it’s in, and particularly within companies that have larger workforces, businesses should aim to have at least one trained first-aider present at all times.


The risk assessment

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Person looking at building blocks spelling out Risk.

Person looking at building blocks spelling out Risk.

Firstly, determine which first-aid provisions you need to arrange. By assessing the nature of an employee’s work, and the risk associated, you can work out the corresponding first aid requirement.

When undertaking such an assessment, the key factors to take into account include:

  • The size of the business

  • Size of the workforce

  • Number of buildings and ease of access between them

  • Work pattern

  • Workplace hazards and risks

  • The history of previous incidents

  • How far the workplace is from emergency medical services

  • Lone and/or mobile workers

  • Employees’ existing medical conditions, such as epilepsy, diabetes, or severe allergies (these will require more advanced training for a first aider)

Once you’ve ascertained which activities are carried out day-to-day, and at which location(s), you need to provide:

  • Necessary first aid equipment

  • An appropriate number of first aiders

  • Facilities, such as a first aid room or area

It’s important that your assessment is regularly reviewed, particularly when there is a change in work activities or procedures.


Providing first-aid equipment and facilities

Employers should ensure that there’s at least one first-aid kit present in each location. The first-aid kit they provide should be of appropriate size/capacity for the number of employees it’s intended to cover.


Although there’s no legislation about what should be added to a first-aid kit, it must have suitable materials/equipment for particular circumstances. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends that your first-aid kit should meet or exceed the British Standard BS8599.


Moreover, to ensure it’s instantly recognisable in an emergency, the first-aid kit must have a white cross on a green background. Its content should also be checked regularly.


Appointed persons

To streamline the process, employers must appoint someone to take charge of the first-aid arrangement and to record/address any accident or if someone falls ill. This person will be tasked with looking after and replenishing the first-aid materials and calling an ambulance, if required. 


However, they should not attempt to give first-aid treatment if they’ve not been trained.


There is no legal requirement for the appointed person to undergo first-aid training, though there are plenty of short courses to help them deal with emergencies. When trained, first-aiders can administer treatment in the workplace and will receive relevant certification to show this.


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