Informa Markets

Author Bio ▼

Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
May 27, 2016

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

Friday ‘take five’: Essential workplace first-aid


Grab yourself a cup of tea and take five, whilst educating yourself about the essentials of first-aid at work.

According to the Health and Safety Executive’s Labour Force Survey, 611,000 workplace injuries occurred during 2014/15 in the UK. There were a further 76,000 injuries reported under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013).

In total, 27.3 million working days were lost due to work-related injury or illness, costing the UK economy an estimated £14.3 billion in one year.

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) is the primary legislation designed to prevent accidents happening in the workplace, and to protect the welfare of employees.

Unfortunately, despite this legislation, there is ‒ as the statistics above illustrate ‒ still a large chance that an incident requiring first-aid help will happen on a business’s premises.

If you own a business, your day-to-day operations will be geared towards making a profit. Nonetheless, the health and safety of your workforce should always be your primary concern.

Here are some essential first-aid tips for the workplace, which will ensure that you are operating in-line with health and safety regulations, and with appropriate action plans firmly in place.

Get a first-aid assessment

All businesses should have appropriate first-aid provisions. A new business, or one that is moving premises, should have a new assessment conducted. This can be completed in-house by a team of appointed individuals, or by an independent training provider.

The assessment will identify whether the business needs a person with a very basic level of practical first-aid experience, or, due to activities that pose a special hazard, if there is actually a requirement for additional expertise or training.

Not all workspaces are the same. You might have employees who travel, work remotely, or work shift patterns. Additionally, your premises may be spread out across several buildings or floors ‒ all of this must be taken into account.

Following the assessment, which should look at the high- and low-level risks that might affect employees and non-employees, actions must be taken to make the area as safe as possible.

Get a first-aid kit stocked with the essentials

There are no legal guidelines outlining the equipment your first-aid kit must contain – you must decide yourself what is appropriate for your workforce.

The contents of workplace first aid kit(s) vary depending on the type of business, the potential hazards and the size of the workforce. The list below contains all the basic items any kit should contain. It’s advisable that every UK business ‒ from start-ups to global enterprises ‒ has these items available in case somebody is taken ill or has an accident.

  • Advice leaflet
  • Bandages
  • Plasters
  • Eye pads
  • Safety pins
  • Disposable gloves
  • Medical tape
  • Cleansing wipes
  • Scissors.

Drugs and medicines are not on the list because they are not required as standard. Any medicines required by the business and its staff must be stored separately.

Decide who is responsible for administering first-aid

If your workspace is an office environment, there must be someone based on the premises who has some sort of practical first-aid knowledge at the very least. This is a minimum requirement – even in businesses where activities are considered to be low-hazard.

Remember: there is always the possibility that someone will have an accident or be taken ill, so you must have someone to take care of emergency arrangements.

The appointed person is also in charge of looking after first-aid equipment, which requires them to keep stock of what’s in the kit and then replenish stock when necessary.

Where a business has a number of trained first-aiders, it is not necessary to appoint a specific person.

Put a severe injury and illness plan into place

Accidents or health-related emergencies come in many guises, so you need to be as prepared as possible for a wide range of occurrences. Be proactive and reactive ‒ ensure the business takes steps to protect against serious injury, and can act quickly when an incident happens.

Ensure you know about your employees’ underlying health issues, such as diabetes, epilepsy or any severe allergies. Sit down individually with them and get to understand how they are affected by their conditions, and then ensure that there is a sufficient plan in place to protect and treat them should they need swift medical attention.

In a severe emergency ‒ whether a colleague has suffered a stroke, had a seizure or broken a bone ‒ the first thing you must do is make the area safe, then clear the area from any other dangers.

If there are a number of casualties, go to anybody who is unconscious before you tend to anyone else. See if the person is okay, shake their shoulders and try to speak to them. If they don’t respond, you should shout for help, open the airway and check for normal breathing. If the person isn’t breathing, the emergency services should be called straight away. Your workplace health and safety officer should administer the emergency care and make the call.

Whatever the size of your businesses, a careful health and safety assessment or risk management assessment will help you identify any potential hazards, and ensure steps can be taken to improve the quality and speed of the response.


  1. HSE’s Key Figures for Britain (2014/15)
  2. HSE’s Basic advice on first aid at work
  3. HSE’s first-aid at Work: Your Questions Answered

first aid

David Howarth is the Chief Executive at Imperative Training, which has grown from a bedroom-based enterprise in 2003, to one of the largest independent first-aid training providers in the UK.

Related Topics

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments