The Law
The regulations require that, in order to provide first aid to their employees who are injured or become ill while at work employers must have suitable people, equipment and facilities.

Regulation 3(2) says that: For this purpose a person shall not be suitable
unless they have undergone such training and has such qualifications as the HSE may approve and such additional training, if any may be appropriate in the circumstances.

A Health & Safety Executive First Aid at Work Training Organisation must carry out such training.

For information on the regulations go to

New first aid training arrangements

1  From 1 October 2009
, HSE is introducing new arrangements to the first aid     training regime. This will not require any change to the current Regulations ). The new arrangements will provide that to comply with regulation 3(2) (a), first aiders provided by an employer in the workplace for the purposes of the regulatory requirements must hold a certificate of competence in either:

  • first aid at work (‘FAW’ – reduced from a four-day to a three-day course), issued by a training organisation approved by HSE; or
  • emergency first aid at work (‘EFAW’ – a one-day course), issued

2  Providing they have current knowledge and skills in first aid, the training and experience of the following qualify them to administer first aid in the workplace without the need to have an FAW or EFAW certificate:

           * doctors registered with the General Medical Council;
           * nurses registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council;                
           * paramedics registered with the Health Professions Council.

3  EFAW training enables a first aider to give emergency first aid to someone who is injured or becomes ill while at work. FAW training includes EFAW and also equips the first aider to apply first aid to a range of specific injuries and illness. Employers should use the findings of their first aid needs assessment to help them decide whether first aiders should be trained in FAW or EFAW. If the needs of the workplace require FAW trained first aiders to be provided, it is not an acceptable alternative to provide EFAW trained first aiders.

4 On successful completion of an FAW or EFAW course, candidates will be issued with a certificate, which is valid for three years. At the end of the three-year period they will need to undertake an FAW requalification course (two days) or EFAW course (the same course set out above), as appropriate, to obtain another three-year certificate if they are to continue to fulfil the role of first aider for the purposes of the regulatory requirements. Employers need to arrange retraining before certificates expire.

5 Research has shown that following training, the practical skills of first aiders can deteriorate. HSE will introduce (in the guidance listed below) a strong recommendation that first aiders undertake annual refresher training during any three-year FAW/ EFAW certification period. Although not mandatory, this will help qualified first aiders maintain their basic skills and keep up to date with any changes to first aid procedures. Annual refresher training can be delivered by  Approved training organisations  Where available, in-house occupational health professionals (a doctor registered with the General Medical Council or nurse registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council) can run annual refresher training in the workplace, providing they have current experience of first aid skills, are competent to train and are familiar with the current standards HSE accepts for the first aid management of injuries and illness in the workplace.

6  The new training arrangements do not affect first aiders holding a valid FAW certificate obtained under the existing arrangements . However, where a first aider retrains on or after 1 October 2009, the new arrangements will apply.

7  The ‘appointed person’ will remain the minimum requirement where an employer’s first aid needs assessment identifies that a first aider is not necessary.  Their role will still be to take charge of the first aid arrangements, including looking after the first aid equipment and facilities and calling the emergency services when required. They can also provide emergency cover, within their role and competence, where a first aider is absent due to unforeseen circumstances (annual leave does not count). Appointed persons do not need first aid training, though emergency first aid training courses are available. HSE approval is not required for this type of training.

The new first aid training arrangements described above will offer the employer more training options for first aiders when deciding on the level of first aid provision for the workplace. In addition, the training time taken to achieve compliance with regulation 3(2) (a) of the Regulations will be reduced. More frequent training through annual refreshers should help improve the competency of first aiders by maintaining their basic skills.