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First-aid at work policy

The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981

(Revised Code of Practice 1997)



  1. Introduction
  2. Definition of first-aider
  3. Duty of employer to make first-aid provision
  4. Assessment of first-aid needs
  5. Guidelines for first-aid equipment
  6. Inspection of first-aid stocks
  7. Record keeping
  8. Notification of first-aid arrangements
  9. Implementation of first aid policy

Appendix 1 - Suggested Numbers of First-Aiders for Specific Workplaces.




The above Regulations set out the essential aspects of first-aid which the University, as an employer, has to provide. This Policy has been prepared to assist all concerned understand and comply with the Regulations and offers practical and realistic advice as to its implementation.


Definition of first-aid


When employees become ill or suffer injuries at work, it is important that immediate first-aid attention is obtainable and, if necessary, an ambulance called. First-aid given promptly and effectively can save lives; often it can assist in the prevention of minor injuries deteriorating into serious injuries. In many incidents/accidents, it is the only treatment necessary. The First Aid at Work Policy covers the arrangements required to ensure that appropriate first-aid provision be situated in all places of work throughout the University.


Duty of employer to make first-aid provision


The Regulations state that there is a duty on employers to make provision for first-aid at work by:


  • ensuring there is adequate and appropriate equipment and facilities to provide first-aid to employees who become injured or ill at work;
  • ensuring that there are a sufficient number of 'suitable persons' able to administer first-aid if employees become injured or ill at work.


A 'suitable person' is either:


(1)   A First-aider who has received training and a qualification in first-aid at work from an organisation approved by the Health and Safety Executive. Some first-aiders will require particular first-aid training if their work-place has specific hazards associated with the work activity. The selection of first-aiders ought to take into consideration the individuals ability to learn new skills and their capacity to cope with stressful and physically demanding emergency procedures. They should be able to go rapidly and immediately to an emergency.


The training of first-aiders lasts at least 24 contact hours, consisting of both teaching and practical sessions. At present this takes four consecutive days with an examination in the afternoon of the last day. The Health and Safety Executive have approved the courses run by the Occupational Health Service. Refresher courses lasting at least 12 contact hours are also provided and must be taken every three years to maintain a valid first aid at work certificate. The Occupational Health Adviser shall inform all first-aiders of any changes in first-aid practice and may hold supplementary training sessions if the need arises.




(2)   An Appointed Person who has received training in the management of a first-aid situation, and who would take charge until more expert assistance becomes available, e.g. first-aider, ambe personnel etc.


The Appointed Person will have responsibility for the upkeep of first-aid equipment in workplaces, where the first-aid needs assessment indicates there is no need to provide a trained first-aider. All Appointed Persons will complete a course of four hours duration in emergency first-aid. This course will need to be repeated annually to maintain skills.


Assessment of first-aid needs


To ensure the availability of appropriate first-aid provision those responsible in each workplace will have to assess their first-aid requirements. The First Aid Needs Checklist will assist those involved in this assessment. This document, when completed and returned to the Occupational Health Adviser, will assist in the process of ensuring that appropriate first-aid personnel and equipment are available to:


  • give immediate attention to an employee suffering from common injuries and illness and those likely to arise from specific hazards at work;
  • call an ambulance or other professional help;


The amount of first-aid equipment and trained personnel necessary will depend on the circumstances of each workplace. No fixed level exists. Those responsible will estimate, using the assessment of first-aid needs checklist, the level of equipment and personnel necessary to their circumstances. Appendix 1 gives suggestions as to the number of first-aid personnel required in differing workplaces.


The School/Unit/Residence Health and Safety Policy identifies hazards in the workplace and will therefore be helpful to those assessing first-aid requirements. The information obtained from making an assessment will identify the most likely nature of an incident which may require first-aid. Such assessments may also assist with estimating the most appropriate type, quantity and location of first-aid personnel and equipment. In workplaces assessed as low risk, provision of a suitably stocked first-aid box and designating an Appointed Person to take charge of first-aid arrangements may be all that are required.


In the case of work activity with hazardous substances, dangerous machinery etc, first-aid provision must be appropriate to the assessed risk. As work activities present a variety of risks throughout the University separate first-aid needs assessment require to be undertaken in each work area and re-assessed when there is any change in the working practice.


Guidelines for first-aid equipment


The assessment of first-aid need, together with the health and safety risk assessment, will assist in the identificaton of the level of first-aid cover and first-aid equipment required.


  • All first-aid equipment must be suitably marked, ideally a green box with a white cross, and easily accessible and available in places where working conditions require it;
  • First-aid containers should protect first-aid items from dust and damp;
  • First-aid boxes ought to contain items for administering first-aid and nothing else;
  • There is no mandatory list of first-aid materials to be included in the first-aid box. The content selection of first-aid boxes will result from first-aid needs assessment. The School/Unit/Residence Safety Co-ordinator may liaise with the workplace First-Aider/Appointed Person to decide on the first-aid equipment required. Assistance is available from the Occupational Health Adviser on this matter. A First-Aid Requirements Form is available from the safety Office and a copy of the completed form should be sent to the Occupational Health Adviser.


Note : Medication, disinfectants, ointments, etc. are NOT to be held in a first-aid box under any circumstance.


In workplaces where there is a comparatively low risk to health and safety a minimum level of first-aid requirement is required.


For example, office type accommodation would normally only require -


  • 1 advisory leaflet giving advice on the prevention of infection;
  • 1 leaflet giving guidance on first-aid;
  • 20 assorted adhesive plasters;
  • 3 triangular bandages;
  • 2 sterile eye pads;
  • 6 safety pins;
  • 2 small wound dressings;
  • 2 medium wound dressings;
  • 2 large dressings;
  • 1 pair disposable gloves;
  • 6 non-alcohol cleansing wips;
  • 1 record sheet of any treatment given.


The assessment of first-aid needs may indicate that there ought to be additional requirements in workplaces e.g. kitchens, workshops, laboratories, etc. Consideration should be given to providing scissors, cold packs, cling film, adhesive tape, etc. These can be stored in, or alongside, the first-aid container.


Where mains water is not readily available for eye irrigation, at least a litre of sterile water in sealed disposable containers should be provided. Replace containers whenever the seal is broken or when past the expiry date.


Inspection of first-aid stocks


A designated staff member, either a First-Aider or an Appointed Person, ought to inspect the first-aid stocks on a regular basis and replace any stocks necessary. Stocks may be obtained by order from the Occupational Health Unit.


Record keeping


Everyone using first-aid stocks should complete a First-Aid Record Form held within the first-aid box and also complete a University of St. Andrews Standard Accident Report Form, a copy of which should be sent to the Safety Adviser. This reporting system will assist in the identification of any work activities which may be causing ill-health or injury. Subsequent alterations to the work activity may then be required to prevent further ill health/injury.


Notification of first-aid arrangements


In order that first-aid arrangements operate effectively, it is important that they are known, understood and accepted by everyone at the workplace. A University of St. Andrews first-aid notice requires to be completed. It ought to clearly indicate who and where the first-aiders are and the location of the nearest first-aid box. It is important to place first-aid notices in prominent positions and that there are sufficient displayed in each area. Staff who may have reading or language difficulties may require the provision of a relevant first-aid notice.


All new members of staff, as part of their induction training, will need to be made aware of the first-aid provision and procedures in their work area.


Implementation of first-aid policy


In order that adequate and appropriate first-aid equipment and trained First-Aiders/Appointed Persons are located in all workplaces throughout the University, it will be necessary to carry out the following activities:


  • Undertake an Assessment of First-Aid Needs and then complete the Assessment of First-Aid Needs Checklist;
  • Using the information from the Assessment of First-Aid Needs Checklist, complete a First-Aid Requirement Form. Return copies of both the Checklist and Requirement Forms to the Occupational Health Adviser. (This will indicate any current deficits in provision).
  • Ensure that all members of staff are familiar with the first-aid arrangements in their area.
  • Complete and display revised First-Aid Notices and remove out-of-date Medical Emergency Procedure Notices from their area.


Occupational Health Unit

February 1998


Appendix 1



Category of Risk Number of workers at any location (including students) Suggested Number of First Aid Personnel
Low Risk  (e.g. Offices, Libraries) Fewer than 50 At least one Appointed Person
  50-100 At least one First-Aider
  More than 100 One additional  First-Aider for every 100 employed
Medium Risk (e.g.Workshops, Kitchens, Grounds) Fewer than 20 At least one Appointed Person
  20-100 At least one First-Aider for every 50 employed
  More than 100 One Additional First-Aider for every  100 employed
High Risk (e.g. chemical exposure, dangerous machinery, sharp instruments) Fewer than 5 At least one Appointed Person
  5-50 At least one First-Aider
  More than 80 One additional First-Aider for every 80 employed
  Where there are hazards for which additional first-aid skills are necessary In addition at least one First-Aider trained in the specific emergency action


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