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The STS blog

25 Jan 2015

How many first aiders do we need?

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We are often asked “how many first aiders do we need?”…. and it would be great to say “everyone at work!”… but it doesn’t really work like that.

In the old days, we used to have grid that had 9 options. All you had to do was work out the amount of employees and the risk in which they work. Simple. 10 people, in a shop.. 1 first aider; 2 if you’d like to cover them for absence. 100 people in an office; easy – 2 people on a first aid at work course, possibly a few more on a one day course to cover.

These days though, (since October 2009 actually) there is a little more to it. You have to think about the size of the building, the shape, the kinds of people who work there, are they fit and mobile or are there people with any disabilities. Do you have employees that have any medical conditions that may have to be addressed? There is certainly a lot more too it; but if anything its a step in the right direction in terms of getting the best cover for your staff, trained in the right things to give care when required.

When deciding how many first aiders you will need at work, here is a list of things to consider:

1.The nature of work, the hazards and the risks:

The HSE have complied a list of Risks and injuries caused:
Manual Handling   (Fractures, Lacerations, Sprains and Strains)
Slips, Trips and Falls     (Fractures, Lacerations, Sprains and Strains)
Machinery    (Crush, Amputations,  Fractures, Lacerations, Sprains and Strains)
Working at Height    (Head Injury, Loss of consciousness, Spinal Injury, Fractures, Lacerations, Sprains and Strains)
Workplace Transport    (Crush Injuries, Fractures, Lacerations, Sprains and Strains)
Electricity    (Electric Shock, Burns)
Chemicals    (Poisoning, Loss of consciousness, burns, eye injuries)

2. Nature of the Workforce

– Young
– Elderly
– Specific health problems (such as Heart, asthma, breathing, diabetes etc)
– Disabilities

3. The Organisations history of accident and injuries

Has anything happened over the years that may need you to look at the amount of first aiders? Has an accident happened and there weren’t enough people to deal with it, not trained to a standard hoped for etc?

4. Need of Travelling, Remote or Lone Workers

First aid should be available wherever people work so you may want to consider personal first aid kits for these types.

5. Work Patterns and shift patterns.

Have you got 10 first aiders in the day, but only 3 during the night?

6. Distribution of the workforce:

First aiders should be able to get to an incident quickly. Does the building have 10 floors and the first aiders are in the reception area on ground floor? Is it a school that is spread over about 5 acres and takes ten minutes to get to the other side of the field?

7. Remoteness from emergency services:

How easy can the emergency services get there. In the centre of London we are lucky, but you may work on a boat on the Thames, or at an outdoor pursuits centre in Wales

8. Annual Leave and sickness:

We all love a holiday, some more than others. Do all the first aiders have children and tend to all go away in the school holidays?

9. First Aid provision for Non-Employees:

The HSE recommend you include non-employees in your risk assessment. A golf club may only have 4 employees, but 100 people on site at the same time. Do you have enough first aid cover for events, day trips, special occasions etc?

10. The size of the organisation:

You shouldn’t base your first aiders on just the size of workforce, but a general guide would be 1 first aider per every 100 at ALL times (for low risk – shops, libraries, offices)… 1 first aider for every 50 at ALL times for manual workers; (light assembly, factory etc)

Its only a few pointers, but may help you determine the correct level of cover for your place of work. We are always happy to offer an impartial and honest view and will help you work out how many first aiders you may need. After 30 years of training and advice, we are getting used to the kinds of things that may happen at work. Please feel free to ask any questions if you aren’t sure, or need a hand to work it out.

Once you have worked out how many you need; you will then work out whether the 3 day first aid course or an emergency first aid course is more suitable. We are here to help you make that decision.