What is the legal requirement for first aid at work in 2023?


Employers have a duty of care for their employees while they are at work. This includes making sure that there are sufficient first aid provisions in place should a healthcare emergency take place. If someone needs urgent medical assistance, then it is vital that there are first responders nearby who can provide the necessary support before paramedics and other more advanced healthcare staff arrive on the scene. 

Not only this, but if the issue is not too severe, then someone suitably trained in first aid at work will be able to resolve the problem to a sufficient standard so that other healthcare professionals do not need to be involved, or don’t need to arrive in such an urgent manner at least. 

If you are an employer, then you will be wondering what legal requirements you have a duty to follow. It can be confusing, but in this blog post we will explain clearly for you the relevant regulations in place and what you need to do in order to become and remain compliant with first aid at work legislation. 

What legislation covers first aid at work in the UK? 

The key piece of legislation when it comes to the legal requirement for first aid at work is the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981. This law requires employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work”.  

Nobody knows your business better than you. That’s why when it comes to first aid provision, it is left up to you as an employer to decide what works best. That said, every business regardless of size or location must ensure that they have three key arrangements: 

  • A suitably stocked first aid kit at work. 

  • An appointed person in charge of first aid at work matters (not necessarily a first aider). 

  • Information on your first aid arrangements that is accessible for all employees. 

Above this, you will decide what is appropriate cover for your business. However, be aware that this is not an opportunity to disregard first aid for work. If the unthinkable happens where someone needs first aid help at your place of business, you will be asked to prove why you decided that your level of provision was deemed suitable. If the reasons are not logical or it was decided simply for cost-saving measures, then your business could be at risk of facing severe legal, financial and reputational consequences.  

You should also be aware that first aid at work does not only cover your employees, but also those that may be visiting your business premises. This includes members of the public, suppliers, and other visitors who are not employed by you. 

How do I know what first aid coverage is adequate for my business? 

We’ve established that you need to evidence clearly that your first aid provisions are suitable and adequate for your business. To do this, before anything you will need to undertake a first aid needs assessment.  

A first aid needs assessment will allow you to have a full understanding of your business from a first aid perspective and provide you with a solid understanding of potential risks and hazards and what you need to mitigate them.  

St John Ambulance Cymru actually has a first aid needs calculator to help you on your journey. Simply enter information such as the number of areas in your workplace, employees and so forth, and we will let you know based on the information you provide what we think you will need to be suitably covered.  

To be specific, when it comes to a first aid risk assessment for your place of business, you should consider the following: 

  • the nature of the work you do 

  • workplace hazards and risks (including specific hazards requiring special arrangements) 

  • the nature and size of your workforce 

  • the work patterns of your staff 

  • holiday and other absences of those who will be first aiders and appointed persons 

  • your business’ or organisation's history of accidents or incidents 


Depending on your business and style of work, you may also need take into consideration additional factors such as: 

  • the needs of travelling, remote and lone workers 

  • the distribution of your workforce 

  • the remoteness of any of your sites from emergency medical services 

  • whether your employees work on shared or multi-occupancy sites 

  • first aid provision for non-employees (for example members of the public) 

What are the minimum responsibilities of the appointed person in charge of first aid at work? 

We mentioned earlier in the blog article that every business needs an appointed person who is in charge of workplace first aid. At the very minimum this individual will have two key responsibilities. The first is to look after first aid equipment and facilitates, for example making sure that the first aid kit remains fully stocked. The second minimum responsibility is to call the emergency services should a healthcare emergency occur.  

It's important to note that the vast majority of businesses choose to have employees train in First Aid at Work or Emergency First Aid at Work as part of their workplace first aid coverage. It can be confusing to decide which course is right for you. That’s why we’ve taken a look at both courses in depth to help you decide. 


Although first aid regulations look different for every business, there are certain minimum standards that every enterprise will need to adhere to. The minimum standards may be suitable for a small business, but as the size and number of employees increases you will likely need to have at least one employee engage in official first aid at work training. This is also dependent on whether your business is considered high or low risk. 

St John Ambulance Cymru is here to help you every step of the way when it comes to first aid coverage. As well as First Aid at Work and Emergency First Aid at Work training, we run a range of first aid courses so that no matter your business, we will have training to ensure you and your employees are sufficiently covered. We can also come to your place of work if there are six or more employees that need training, and we can also tailor bespoke training for your specific business needs.   

Speak to our Commercial Training Team today to start your workplace first aid journey. Call us on 0345 678 5646 or send us an email to inquire with no obligation. 

Published September 21st 2023

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