Belfast Telegraph

First aid needs change according |to the workplace

By Siobhan Harding

The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1982 require employers to provide adequate first aid facilities and equipment, and ensure there are enough suitably trained people to give first-aid to employees if they are injured or become ill at work.

It is necessary for employers to ensure that first aid provision is made available at all times.

The first-aid provision which an employer has to make will be dictated by the circumstances in the workplace.

No fixed level of first aid provision exists, but an employer should make an assessment of first aid needs appropriate to the circumstances of the workplace.

The Code of Practice which accompanies the regulations provides suggested numbers of first aid personnel to be available based on assessments of risk and number of workers.

Where risks are significant (for example, most construction or extensive work with dangerous machinery) and in all cases where there are 50 or more people employed, at least one fully trained first aider should be provided.

A first aider must hold a valid certificate of competence in first aid at work issued by an organisation whose training and qualifications are approved by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland.

Most small firms will only need to make the minimum first aid provision. However, depending on the circumstances in the workplace greater provision may be necessary, for example, if employees are working with dangerous tools or machinery. The minimum provision is:

l a suitably stocked and properly identified first-aid box.

There is no mandatory list of items that should be included in the box, but a minimum stock of first aid items would normally be — a leaflet giving general guidance on first aid, 20 individually wrapped sterile adhesive dressings (assorted sizes), two sterile eye pads, four individually wrapped triangular bandages (preferably sterile), six safety pins, six medium-sized individually wrapped sterile unmedicated wound dressings, two large sterile individually wrapped unmedicated wound dressings and one pair of disposable gloves;

l an appointed person to take charge of the first aid arrangements — including looking after the equipment and facilities, and calling the emergency services when required. Appointed persons should not attempt to give first aid for which they have not been trained.

Employers have a duty to inform their employees of the arrangements that have been made in relation to first aid equipment and personnel.

A simple method of keeping employees informed is by displaying first aid notices which include information about who and where the first aiders or appointed persons are, and where the first aid box is.

Further information on all aspects of health and safety is available from your local CAB, from the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) on their One-2-One helpline 0800 0320 121 or by visiting their website at

HSENI’s Employment Medical Advisory Service (EMAS) can provide advice on all aspects of first aid at work and can be contacted on 028 9040 8004 or by e-mail at .

Health and Safety Works NI (HSWNI) is an advisory service established specifically to help small businesses manage workplace health and safety, and comply with their legal responsibilities. HSWNI’s business advisers provide free and confidential information and advice on all aspects of preventing and managing occupational health and safety.

There are no enforcement implications and no costs to the business.

If you have a small business you can contact HSWNI by telephoning 028 9040 8007 or email

Siobhan Harding is an Information and Policy Officer with Citizens Advice.

Belfast Telegraph