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

19th October, 2018

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

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'.

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

One of the main considerations when looking at the number of first aiders you need is whether your workplace is low risk or high 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 that accidents are highly unlikely, then first aid requirements will be lower.

Number of people

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.

Before we look at each type of work environment, let's see how they impact on the number of first aiders you need. There is no hard and fast rule regarding the number of first aiders you must provide, but the HSE has issued guidelines which will help you decide how many first aiders you need.

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).

First aider requirements

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

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.

You can also see that are different types or levels of first aiders, just to complicate things a little more.

Types of First Aider

There are three main types of first aider.

  1. The appointed person, who isn't really a first aider, but has first aid responsibilities and some first aid knowledge.
  2. The emergency first aider, who has the practical and theoretical first aid training to handle emergency situations.
  3. The first aider, 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

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 for 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.

First Aiders

A first aider is someone who has undertaken the necessary training and holds a valid qualification as a certificate of competence. This can be either Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) or First Aid at Work (FAW). EFAW is usually a one day course covering emergency first aid, someone who has done this course is an emergency first aider (EFA). 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.

Office
Here's our low risk office

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 occur.

You therefore 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 a number of 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.

Construction site
There are many risks on a construction site

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.

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.

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
50+ 1 FA per 50

If the nature of your work means your workforce is spread out over a number of 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.

Yes, most of your efforts will need to be on site 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 site.

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? 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 a number of buildings or sites, you need to consider providing first aid requirements on each site.

The number of first aid personnel you provide 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.

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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