Under the new Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance when assessing workplace first aid training and supplies needs employers should consider a greater number of factors than was advised under the previous guidance to the regulations.

What should I consider as part of my first aid needs review?

The HSE’s new guidance for workplace first aid provision asks employers to consider the following when assessing first aid needs:

  • The nature of the work and hazards and/or risks
  • The number of people employed at the site
  • The number of inexperienced workers
  • Employees with disabilities or particular health problems
  • Employees with the characteristics of groups at higher risk from health conditions
  • Previous accidents or records of ill health
  • Recurring injuries or illnesses
  • Employees who travel a lot, work remotely or alone
  • Employee shift patterns or out of hours work
  • The layout of the workplace
  • The proximity of the workplace to emergency services
  • First aider absences (e.g. through annual leave) and provision of cover
  • Access to your site by non-employees (e.g. visiting members of the public)

What evidence sources are useful in performing a first aid needs assessment?

There are many evidence sources that can help you to carry out a thorough first aid needs assessment. Some useful sources are as follows:

  • Accident report book
  • Work manuals and standard operating procedures
  • Control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH) notices
  • Crude indicators (such as age profile of your employees)
  • Work or shift patterns
  • Absence records
  • Ambulance response times
  • Distance to nearest medical help
  • Holiday patterns

How often should I review my first aid needs?

It is important that a regular review of your first aid needs is an integral part of your main risk assessment under The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981. A first aid assessment every 12 months is an essential part of your duty of care for staff in the workplace. In addition, you should also review your first aid needs assessment if any of the following occurs:

  • An accident at work or an illness caused by work
  • Changes in work patterns or processes
  • Changes in personnel
  • Changes to the workplace (e.g. a move to a different site or changes to equipment)