22nd March, 2022

How Many First Aiders Do I Need? Low Vs High Risk Work

How many first aiders do you have in your workplace? Is it enough? The number of first aiders you need isn't just based on the number of staff you have. Another consideration is your risk level. In this post, we assess how many first aiders are required in both high-risk and low-risk workplaces.

How Many First Aiders Do I Need? Low Vs High Risk Work header image

When assessing first aid requirements, one of the first questions people usually ask is 'How many first aiders do I need?'. The often frustrating answer is 'it depends'.

And it doesn't just depend on how many staff you have. It also depends on the type of work they do, what shifts they work, the spread of your workplace, the likelihood of an accident, and the type of accidents that might happen.

Just to make things a little more confusing, there's not just one type of first aider. There are three. The appointed person (not strictly a first aider), the emergency first aider, and the first aider. So once you have figured out how many first aiders you need, you need to decide what type of first aider you need!

But don't worry, by the end of this post, you will be able to calculate exactly how many first aiders (and what type) you need in your workplace.

There is no hard and fast rule regarding the number of first aiders you must provide, but the HSE has issued guidelines to help you decide how many first aiders you need.

This is going to be quite a lengthy post, as we dive into the details for different types of workplaces, and types of first aider. If you're in a rush, here's a quick summary for you.

If you are in a rush and plan to leave after seeing the numbers below, there's one other thing you need to take away. Whatever number of first aiders you find you need from the table, double it when you look at your training requirements. There's a difference between the number of first aiders for cover, and the number of trained first aiders you need (more on that in the final section of this article).

People First Aiders (Low Risk) First Aiders (High Risk)
Up to 5 1 AP 1 AP
Up to 25 1 AP 1 EFA
Up to 50 1 EFA 1 FA
Up to 100 1 FA 2 FA
100+ 1 FA per 100 2 FA per 100

AP = Appointed Person, EFA = Emergency First Aider, FA = First Aider

The more people you have in a workplace, the more first aiders are required. Everyone at work needs to be able to get immediate help should they be injured or taken ill.

But as you can see from the table above, you also need to consider if your workplace is high-risk, or low-risk.

If you are working in a high-risk environment, there is a greater chance of an accident occurring, so it makes sense that you should have more first aiders. In comparison, if you are working somewhere accidents are highly unlikely, then first aid requirements will be lower.

As you can see, in a high-risk work environment, you need a qualified first aider as soon as you reach 5 workers, whereas in a low-risk environment that doesn't happen until you reach 25 workers.

Let's take a look at these different types of first aiders, what they know, and what they do.

Types of First Aider

There are three main types of first aider.

  1. The appointed person (AP), who isn't really a first aider, but has first aid responsibilities and some first aid knowledge.
  2. The emergency first aider (EFA), who has the practical and theoretical first aid training to handle emergencies.
  3. The first aider (FA), who has a higher level of first aid at work training and can handle a range of first aid emergencies and other specific injuries and illnesses.

Appointed Person (AP)

An appointed person is someone you have appointed to take charge of first-aid arrangements on site. This role includes the responsibility of calling the emergency services when required and looking after first aid equipment and facilities.

Appointed persons can be used for emergency cover, or very low-risk sites with less than 5 employees – however, you should always consider providing qualified first aiders particularly where there are more employees or higher risk work.

Emergency First Aider (EFA)

An emergency first aider is a first aider. They will have undertaken training and will hold a valid certificate to prove their competence in emergency first aid.

The course completed at this level is the Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) training. EFAW is usually a one day course covering emergency first aid, someone who has done this course is an emergency first aider (EFA).

First Aider (FA)

A first aider is someone who has undertaken the full First Aid at Work (FAW) training and holds a valid qualification as a certificate of competence. This is your standard first aider, who can cope with a wide range of first aid situations.

FAW is a higher level 3 day course with also covers first aid to specific injuries and illnesses, someone who has done this course is a first aider (FA).

Work environment

Low risk

What's a low-risk environment? Think along the lines of an office environment or a conference room. Somewhere people are not doing a lot of physical tasks and using only low-risk equipment, like computers, desks and chairs.

Let's consider an office. Although a low-risk environment, injuries and accidents can still happen in offices. Someone could trip and bang their head, for example. And health emergencies can also happen in offices, someone could have a heart attack, or a stroke, for example.

office workplace

So just because a workplace is a low risk, it still needs first aiders.

There are no exact rules or requirements on the number of first aiders or appointed persons to be provided in an office environment. However there is a legal requirement to provide adequate first aid equipment, facilities and people, so your employees can get immediate help should an accident or medical situation occur.

Therefore, you need to assess what your first aid needs are. Office work is a relatively low hazard environment and the risk of accident and injury is much lower when compared to a high-risk environment such as construction or manufacturing work. You need to take the nature of the work into account as well as the number of employees when assessing your first aid requirements.

The HSE guidance gives a suggested number of first aiders required in a low-risk environment such as an office:

First aider requirements for low-risk workplaces

People First Aiders
Up to 25 1 AP
Up to 50 1 EFA
Up to 100 1 FA
100+ 1 FA per 100

Where your offices are spread out over several buildings or floors, you need to consider providing first aid requirements on each level or each building.

High risk

What's a high-risk environment? Somewhere like a construction site, a warehouse or a manufacturing facility, where the nature of the work and the equipment used means there is a high likelihood that accidents will happen.

For our example, we will look at a construction site, but you can apply these rules to any high-risk environment. On a construction site, people use power tools, machines and hazardous substances. They work at height and in the ground.

construction site workplace

Construction work is high hazard in its nature and the risk of accident and injury is much higher when compared to a low-risk environment such as office work. You need to take the nature of the work into account as well as the number of employees when assessing your first aid requirements.

Like low-risk environments, there are no exact rules or requirements on the number of first aiders or appointed persons to be provided on a construction site. However, like all workplaces, there is a legal requirement to provide adequate first aid equipment, facilities and people, so your team can get immediate help should an injury occur on site.

The HSE guidance gives a suggested number of first aiders required in a high-risk environment such as a construction site:

First aider requirements for high-risk workplaces

People First Aiders
Up to 5 1 AP
Up to 25 1 EFA
Up to 50 1 FA
Up to 100 2 FA
100+ 2 FA per 100

If the nature of your work means your workforce is spread out over several sites, you need to consider each site individually for first aid requirements.

Mixed risk

What if you have more than one type of work environment. Taking our construction example further, what about your office-based staff?

Working in the construction industry, your health and safety focus will often be on your sites, where the most serious health and safety risks will be present.

But don't forget, medical emergencies can happen anywhere. Your office-based staff also need to be able to get help quickly. So you should assess all of your workplaces for first aid requirements.

Yes, most of your efforts will need to be on sites to control the risks in the high-risk construction environment, but don't let this overshadow your responsibilities to employees and visitors to your offices, and make sure you are complying with your legal requirements both on and off your sites.

Other considerations

There are some other considerations you should think about when deciding how many first aiders you need in your workplace. One of the most important considerations, in our opinion, is for workplaces who come under the guidance as needing only one first aider or appointed person.

Is one ever enough?

What if your first aider needs first aid? What if your first aider is off ill? What about when your first aider is on holiday?

calendar

The guidance given is for the number of first aiders you need to provide first aid cover, NOT the number of first aiders you need in total. This is why we said earlier on in this article that you need to take the guidance and then at least double it in terms of the number of people you should have trained in first aid.

People get ill, have days off, leave, and take holidays. Think about it. If you only train one first aider, then what happens if they are off ill for a week? You have no first aid cover.

Where your site is spread out over several buildings or sites, you need to consider providing first aid requirements on each site. The number of first aid personnel you provide will need to be available at all times people are at work. If your work is carried out in shifts, then you need to make sure there is first aid cover at all times, and on all shifts.

This may mean having 2 or more qualified first aiders on the project for each first aider you actually need, to cover shift patterns and absences. Your employees need to be able to get immediate help should they be injured or taken ill.


For appointed persons, you can take our online first aid appointed person course. For first aiders, you can find a variety of training providers across the UK for both the 1-day emergency first aid at work and 3-day first aid at work courses.

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This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.

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