Do You Legally Have to Have a First Aider at Work?

Ensuring you keep your staff safe within the workplace is a legal requirement, but do you need a qualified first aider? In this article, we will explore the recommendations for the number of first aiders you should have in the workplace, and where you could get first aid training for your employees.

Do You Legally Have to Have a First Aider at Work? You are required to have a first aider at work if you are in a high-risk environment and have over 5 employees. If you are in a lower-risk workplace and have under 25 members of staff, you will only need an appointed person who should be in charge of first-aid arrangements, should they be needed. If you have over 25 members of staff, you will need a first aider.

Read on to find out when you should have a first aider at work, first aid qualifications, and where to get one.

Do You Need a First Aider at Work?

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations from 1981 don't specify the number of first aiders you need within the workplace. However, the regulations state that you must provide adequate and appropriate personnel to ensure staff receive attention if they are injured or fall ill at work. This also applies to those who are self-employed or operate as a sole-trader

While you don’t legally need a trained first aider in some workplaces, it is recommended that you have a specific member of staff (an appointed person) to take charge of first aid if you operate in a low risk environment, or you have a small number of employees.

If you are a larger organisation or operate in a high-risk environment, you should have a trained first aider on-site to look after your staff adequately. Take a look at the table below to see how many appointed persons (AP) or first aiders (FA) you should have in your business:

Risk Level


Number of Employees

Appropriate Number of First Aiders

Low Risk

  • Offices
  • Retail Stores
  • Libraries
  • Cafes


One AP


One FA


One FA per 100 employees

High Risk

  • Warehouse
  • Food Processing
  • Chemical Manufacturing
  • Construction


One AP


One FA


One FA per 50 Employees

What is the Difference Between an Appointed Person and First Aider? 

An appointed person is someone who is nominated to take charge of, or arrange first-aid arrangements, should they be needed at work. The appointed person should be the one to call an ambulance, or direct others on what to do in other situations. An appointed person is not required to have any first aid qualifications. 

A first aider is someone who has undertaken formal training, and is qualified to give emergency first aid should someone injure themselves or fall ill at work. They must hold either the first aid at work certificate or an emergency first aid at work certificate. 

Should an Appointed Person Have a First Aid Qualification?

An appointed person doesn’t need a formal qualification, but we’d recommend your chosen member of staff take a basic first aid course. This will give your appointed person a great understanding of first aid, which will enable them to hold responsibility for first aid kits, equipment, and facilities while being able to take charge in an emergency and assess the needs for emergency services.

How Should You Select a First Aid Training Provider?

You should choose your first aid training provider based on the needs of your organisation. If your business is small enough to only need an appointed person for first aid, choose a training provider that focuses on covering the basics of first aid, and how to appropriately assess and address an emergency situation. For convenience, you may want to look into online first aid courses for your chosen staff member, which are often inexpensive, quick to complete, and more convenient for your chosen appointed person to do around other work commitments.

Keep in mind that no online course will allow you to become a fully qualified first aider, as this requires classroom training with a certain amount of contact hours. If you are wanting a member of staff to become a qualified first aider, look for a training course that is accredited by regulated bodies, such as SQA or Ofqual.

First Aid at Work Course at HSE Docs

At HSE Docs, we recognise the importance of training courses to ensure safety within your workplace. We offer a short, online First Aid at Work course, which is perfect for appointed persons to learn the skills required to assess situations appropriately and administer suitable first aid.

In this course, we’ll cover:

  • The recovery position and when to use it.
  • How to open airways and treat breathing problems.
  • How to apply dressings, treat burns, eye injuries, head injuries and crush injuries.
  • The do's and don'ts of basic first aid at work.
  • Automated external defibrillators, fractures, breaks and dislocations.
  • Choking, abdominal trauma, the Heimlich manoeuvre, drowning and the effects and treatments for extreme heat or cold.
  • Seizures, allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock.
  • Bites, stings and rashes.

To find out more about our First Aid at Work course, or if you need other advice on safety at work, get in touch with our team who will be happy with any questions you may have.