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Why do I need to provide first-aid?

People at work can suffer injury or sudden illness at any time. It is important that employers have made arrangements to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work. First-aid treatment can save lives as well as helping someone recover more quickly after an accident.

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What should I consider when assessing first-aid needs?

When assessing the first-aid needs in your workplace consider the following:

  • the nature of the work undertaken
  • the hazards present – e.g. chemicals, machinery, processes etc
  • the number of staff employed and their levels of experience
  • the location of your workplace in relation to emergency medical services
  • is there shift work , late night working or lone working
  • the previous accident record in your workplace

The minimum first-aid that should be provided in any workplace is an appointed person, a suitably stocked first-aid box and information for employees about first aid arrangements. In small, low-risk work environments such as offices and shops you may only need the minimum provision. However, for larger or higher risk work environments you will need to provide suitably trained first-aiders.

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What is an appointed person?

An appointed person is someone you choose to take charge in the event of an accident or if someone falls ill including calling an ambulance if required. They also take charge of keeping the first-aid box fully stocked. Appointed persons should NOT attempt to give first-aid for which they have not been trained. However, there are short courses which appointed persons can attend to help them deal with emergency situations.

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What is a first-aider?

A first-aider is someone who has successfully undergone a training course in administering first aid at work and holds a valid certificate. First-Aid training should only be carried out by a training organisation which has been approved by HSENI’s Employment Medical Advisory Service (EMAS). If you would like to view a list of approved training providers, please download the following document:

HSENI Approved First Aid Training Providers (79.4KB) pub 02/12

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How many first-aiders do I need?

The table below gives some guidance on the number of trained first-aiders that you will need:

Category of Risk

Numbers employed at any location

Suggested number of first-aid personnel

Lower Risk

eg shops and offices, libraries

Fewer than 50

50 - 100

More than 100

At least one appointed person

At least one first aider

One additional first-aider for every 100 employed

Medium risk

eg light engineering and assembly work, food processing, warehousing.

Fewer than 20

20 - 100

More than 100

At least one appointed person

At least one first-aider for every 50 employed

One additional first-aider for every 100 employed

Higher risk

eg most construction, slaughterhouses,chemical manufacture, extensive work with dangerous machinery or sharp instruments.

Fewer than 5

5 - 50

More than 50

At least one appointed person

At least one first-aider

One additional first-aider for every 50 employed

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What should I put in the first-aid box?

There is no standard list of items to put in a first-aid box. It depends on what you assess the needs are. However, as a guide, and where there is no special risk in the workplace, a minimum stock of first-aid items would 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 (approximately 12 cm x 12 cm) individually wrapped sterile unmedicated wound dressings;
  • two large (approximately 18 cm x 18 cm) sterile individually wrapped unmedicated wound dressings; and
  • one pair of disposable gloves.

You should not keep tablets or medicines in the first-aid box.

The above is a suggested contents list only and you may need other items depending on your first-aid assessment – for example, if there is a risk of chemical contact you may need facilities such as eyebath, face wash or shower.

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Where can I find out more about first-aid provision?

First-aid at work - your questions answered (Sept 2011) (432KB)

This updated version of this leaflet answers some basic questions about first-aid provision at work. It is aimed at employers in small and medium-sized enterprises, but may be useful to all employers, managers and others involved in first aid.

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Employment Medical Advisory Service

Employment Medical Advisory Service (2.13MB) 05/11

EMAS is a statutory advisory body within the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI). It is staffed by a specialist doctor, nurse and support staff. EMAS gives advice on health matters relating to work and approves and oversees first aid at work training organisations. EMAS contact details are as follows:
Longbridge House
16-24 Waring Street
Telephone: 028 9034 7487

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