Who Can Give First Aid?

Who Can Give First Aid?

First aiders are the only people that can give first aid at work and in other environments. There are other relevant people in a workplace named appointed officers, but they do not actually perform first aid procedures.

A first aider is someone who has qualifications that allow them to help sick or injured people. They know and are able to perform the best procedures to solve a health problem. Also, anyone can train to be one.

All organisations require someone with appropriate training in first aid procedures. This is very important, as nobody knows when a health problem might occur at work.


First Aid at Work

In a workplace, an organisation must carry out a risk assessment to identify any dangers to life or health. The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 state that provisions must be “adequate and appropriate in the circumstances”.[1] Information from the assessment must be given to appointed officers and first aiders. Therefore, things to look out for include hazardous (corrosive, flammable) substances, heavy machinery and cutting tools.

In addition to physical health, organisations should now consider hiring mental health first aiders. They can provide support for employees with emotional stress. With work-life being very stressful, it makes sense to cover all aspects of employee health. After all, employers have a duty of care to all workers, and mental health is starting to fall under their list of responsibilities.

Organisations may also choose to hire an appointed officer. They work together with a qualified first aider to make sure accidents are accounted for.


Differences Between First Aiders and Appointed Officers

According to the Red Cross UK, an appointed officer is someone “who is nominated to take charge of first-aid arrangements, such as… calling an ambulance in an emergency”.[2] They are also in charge of maintaining health and safety equipment like defibrillators (AEDs). Appointing an officer is a minimum requirement in businesses that don’t necessarily need someone trained in giving health aid.

Both of these posts can take charge when someone is sick, call emergency services and maintain injury and illness records. However, the Red Cross UK states that although there is an overlap of duties, officers cannot make an injury assessment, nor give out aid.[3] This means that first aiders are the only ones that can actually give help to people.

This is because they must complete a training course and obtain a three-year certificate. However, appointed officers don’t necessarily have to. Officers should take a course and it may include first aid at work, but this does not include performing aid procedures. This means they can only support someone who is properly qualified.

Ultimately, it is dangerous to give aid without proper training. You will be trying to help but may accidentally make the situation worse.


First Aider Responsibilities

First aid training includes the main aims and duties of the practice. According to St John’s Ambulance,[4] some of these include:

  • Assessing the situation and diagnosing an injury or illness
  • Removing external risks to health from a situation, to protect the ill/injured person and yourself
  • Preventing infections
  • Comforting and reassuring the victim
  • Giving treatment
  • Calling emergency services if the problem is severe

If a situation is very serious, a person may need to check for ABCs. Airways, breathing and circulation are vital life signs that need to be checked.

These people can give life-saving procedures like CPR or put someone in the recovery position.

An easy way to remember these duties is to recall the three Ps: prevent further injury, promote recovery, and preserve life.

You can view our online first aid courses here.


[1] http://www.hse.gov.uk/firstaid/legislation.htm

[2] https://www.redcrossfirstaidtraining.co.uk/courses/first-aid-legal-requirements/choosing-an-appointed-person-or-first-aider/

[3] https://www.redcrossfirstaidtraining.co.uk/courses/first-aid-legal-requirements/choosing-an-appointed-person-or-first-aider/

[4] http://www.sja.org.uk/sja/first-aid-advice/what-to-do-as-a-first-aider/the-role-of-a-first-aider.aspx