How many first aiders do you need?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance is that you should look at your organisation and ask some sensible questions:

• How many staff/customers do you have?
• How many locations do you operate in?
• How long would it take to get an ambulance there?
• What shifts do people work?
• How dangerous is their work environment?

Once you have established the areas that you need to look at and how likely there is to be a First Aid incident, you then have to decide if you have enough cover. This “First Aid Needs Assessment” is your responsibility, you will have to justify your decisions if something goes wrong and you didn’t provide sufficient first aid.

Helpfully the HSE does provide some case studies to guide you. For example, if you have an office with eighty staff spread evenly over two floors working normal business hours with good access to emergency services, you would always need at least one first aider on duty on each floor trained on the one-day first aid course (EFAW). To cover for holidays and absence you would have to train at least four staff members or possibly more.

Another case study given is a construction maintenance crew of twenty working in teams of two, sometimes working at height, with electricity etc, travelling in transit vans up to ten miles from the nearest hospital. In this case you would need at least one first aider per team trained on the three-day first aid at work course (FAW). Once again, to cover for absence and holidays you would probably have to have at least twelve team members trained.

The section of the HSE website dealing with First Aid is worth a visit as it has more case studies in greater detail as well as lots of clear guidance written in plain English-


Written by Steve Celli, Senior Tutor at Castle Hill Training.

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