What does first aid at work cover?

As an employer, you are responsible for the health and safety of your employees while they are at work. This is especially true if a first aid incident occurs while someone is working. If an employee requires urgent medical attention, then a fully trained workplace first aider will be able to provide essential lifesaving support until an ambulance or other emergency services arrive to deliver more advanced support. Providing lifesaving support in those initial moments and minutes after an emergency occurs can potentially mean the difference between life and death, so it’s really important that the first aider at work is suitably trained to deal with life threatening emergencies that could occur. 

These important skills are taught in a First Aid at Work course, also sometimes referred to as an FAW course. It’s the most thorough training course for workplace first aid and is the most suitable training for the vast majority of businesses who have identified through a first aid needs assessment that they need a qualified first aider. However, you will no doubt have many questions about this training, such as what your employees will learn, and how long they will need to take out of work to gain this very useful certification. 

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the First Aid at Work qualification. We’ll explain what the level the qualification is, what you will learn, how long it will last, and how to tell if it is the most suitable course for your business.  

By the way, St John Ambulance Cymru hold First Aid at Work courses across Wales. As Wales’ leading first aid training provider, you can rest assured that your employees and colleagues will receive gold-standard training. To find out more get in touch with our Commercial Training team for a no obligation discussion and quote. You can call them weekdays between 9-5 on 0345 678 5646, or if you prefer then you can also send them an email

What is first aid at work? 

In essence, first aid work is a set of skills that will enable those who complete the course to deliver a range of first aid treatments to colleagues should a first aid emergency occur. It is a set of practical skills taught as part of a comprehensive course designed to minimise the risk to life or long-term health issues should an emergency occur at work where an employee's life is at risk.  

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for enforcing the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981, which is the law that legislates first aid requirements in the UK. The HSE defines FAW as “qualified to Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) level but can also apply first aid to a range of specific injuries and illnesses.” 

How long does first aid at work training take? 

A first aid at work course is supposed to last for three days. On each day, you can expect to be training for around six hours. This is because the HSE mandates that the qualification requires 18 hours of training spread across 3 days. This is likely because you are learning a lot of important information, and it is important that you have time to not only learn and practice the skills, but also take time to reflect and digest your learning. This will ensure that you have a good chance of remembering it in the future. 

This time also includes a final examination, which you will have to pass if you want to become first aid at work qualified. 

How long does a first aid at work certification last? 

After you have successfully completed your FAW course, you will receive a certificate from your training provider that confirms you have completed the course successfully in accordance with HSE regulations and requirements.  

This FAW certification means you will be a qualified first aider for three years. This means that within those three years, you are regarded as a qualified workplace first aider, and you can respond to first aid situations that may occur at work. This is a great qualification to have, not only because having lifesaving skills is really important, but it’s also a great opportunity for personal development, and looks great on a CV. 

Why is a certificate only valid for three years, you may be asking yourself. It’s a really valid question, and there’s a very simple reason behind it. If you’ve ever taken a course or learned something in the past, how much of it did you remember three years later? Chances are that you can recall some, but not everything. If your life is in the hands of someone else, wouldn’t you want them to have as fresh a knowledge as possible, to ensure that you had the best chance of survival and to make sure they didn’t do anything wrong? 

This is why after three years, every first aid at work training provider will say that you must take a requalification course in order to remain a qualified first aider. Many employers also choose to enroll their first aiders in annual refresher courses each year, to ensure that there is as little skill-fade as possible.  

What will you learn on a 3-day First Aid at Work course? 

You will learn emergency lifesaving skills in order to treat people who are experiencing a direct threat to li. You will also gain the knowledge and ability to help those suffering froma range of other specific illnesses and injuries. 

After 3-day FAW training, you will be equipped with the following skills: 

  • Understanding the role and responsibilities of the first aider 

  • Bleeding (minor and severe) 

  • Burns 

  • Casualty movement 

  • Choking (adult) 

  • CPR (adult) including the use of an AED 

  • Fainting 

  • Primary Survey 

  • Seizures (adult) 

  • Shock 

  • Treating an unresponsive casualty 

  • Allergic reaction (including anaphylaxis) 

  • Asthma 

  • Bone, muscle and joint injuries 

  • Chest pains (including heart attack) 

  • Eye injuries, head injuries, spinal injuries 

  • Low blood sugar 

  • Poisons 

  • Sprains and strains 

  • Stroke 


A first aid work certificate is the ideal qualification if you want your business to have the best possible first aid coverage. Over three days, those who have been designated to train as first aiders for the workplace will develop skills that will be of critical importance in a first aid emergency at work. Remember, how many first aiders you need is dependent on the risk involved in your workplace, how many employees there are, and many other factors, so it’s important you do a first aid needs assessment to identify how many you need. Once qualified, make sure to keep a note of when the certification will expire, so you can book your first aider on a first aid at work requalification course. If you forget, then your business runs the risk of not being compliant with the relevant legislation. Don’t forget also that the HSE strongly recommends annual refresher updates which last one day, to ensure that the lifesaving skills of your first aider remain sharp. 

St John Ambulance Cymru teaches a comprehensive 3-Day First Aid at Work course at our training centres across Wales. For groups of six or more, we can even come to your place of work and tailor the course to your specific workplace needs. As a Voluntary Aid Society (VAS), the HSE recognises us as standard setters for first aid practice in the UK, and we advise them on the standard for how to treat casualties in all first aid emergencies in the UK. All other training providers therefore need to meet our standards in order to be accredited. 

That’s why St John Ambulance Cymru is the gold-standard first aid training provider in Wales. Make sure your employees learn from the best. To discuss our course in more detail or to get a quote, please reach out to our Commercial Training team. You can call them Monday-Friday 9-5 on 0345 678 5646, or you can always send them an email if you prefer. 

Just so you know, we also teach the 2-day First Aid at Work Requalification course, and a 1-day First Aid at Work refresher course

Published August 8th 2023

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