The Requirement

The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 place an obligation on employers to ensure they have first aid cover which is adequate and appropriate. In order to ensure this, “an employer should make an assessment of first-aid needs appropriate to the circumstances (hazards and risks) of each workplace.” Source: L74 First aid at work, The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, Guidance on Regulations

Last year, the Health and Safety Executive announced that basic defibrillator training would be included on First Aid and Emergency First Aid at Work courses and that, in certain circumstances, first aid kits should include haemostatic dressings and tourniquets. (For further information regarding this announcement, please visit

Your Assessment

An employer should revisit their first aid needs assessment to check whether  some or all of these items are needed in their provision. What sort of things do you need to consider when deciding whether an AED, haemostatic dressings or tourniquets would be required in your workplace? Below we have listed some of the questions and areas which you need to give thought to.

Example Considerations for Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)

Currently, there is no legal obligation to have an AED in a workplace, however research has shown that an AED can significantly increase a non-breathing casualty’s chance of survival. The shorter the time from collapse to delivery, the greater the chance of the casualty’s survival. Current research has shown that delivery of a shock within 3-5 minutes of collapse from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) can improve a casualty’s chance of survival (50-70%).

All First Aid at Work and Emergency First Aid at Work courses now include basic AED awareness, and for several years first aiders have been taught to request an AED when managing incidents involving a non-breathing casualty.

  • Location/remoteness 
    e.g. How long would it take for emergency services to reach you in the event of an incident? If it could take some time for them to reach you in the event of a serious incident (more 10-15 minutes), you may wish to consider a defibrillator.
  • Size and layout
    e.g. If your premises are large or complex, such as a multi-storey building or has multiple buildings, and you purchase one AED, would it be possible to ensure that it would reach anyone who needed it within the optimum time for delivery of the shock? If it would take some time for an AED to reach the scene, it may be that you need to purchase more than one.
  • Age of personnel
    e.g. What are the ages of employees and any others for whom you provide first aid (e.g. customers, visitors)? As workforces age, the likelihood of incidents occurring which may require the use of an AED could increase.
  • Nature of personnel
    Are there any occupants who suffer from ill health conditions which could make them more likely to be involved in an incident, e.g. a pre-existing heart condition?
  • Number of people
    e.g. The greater the number of people accessing a site, statistically, the greater the chances that an incident requiring the use of an AED may occur. Where there are large crowds, this could impact on AED accessibility.
  • Activities
    e.g. Are strenuous physical activities taking place, such as manual labour, playing sports?
  • History
    e.g. Have there been any previous incidents in your business where the use of an AED was required? Was there one available on site or did first aiders have to wait until the ambulance service arrived? How long did it take for the ambulance to arrive?
  • Training
    e.g. Whilst all First Aid at Work and Emergency First Aid at Work courses now include basic AED use, would your first aiders benefit from a Competent User course (usually half a day), which provides in-depth training with more opportunities to practice correct use of an AED, usually one similar to or the same as the one on your site?

Example Considerations for Haemostatic Dressings & Tourniquets

These items of first aid equipment would generally be required in high risk industries where there is a risk of catastrophic bleeding (i.e. bleeding which is likely to cause death within minutes) and must only be used by those specifically trained in their correct application.

Tourniquets are devices used to forcibly compress a blood vessel to stop bleeding, they are not suitable for application to some areas of the body, such as the neck or abdomen.

Haemostatic dressings are similar to a gauze, however they have specific qualities that help the blood clot and therefore seal a serious wound much quicker than a normal dressing or bandage.

  • Specific hazards
    e.g. Do your employees work with equipment likely to cause serious injury, such as cutting equipment like band saws and chainsaws or heavy duty machinery? If so, there is a greater likelihood of an incident occurring which could cause catastrophic bleeding, such as amputation or mutilation.
  • History
    e.g. Have there been any serious incidents or near misses reported under the Reporting Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR)? This could indicate a greater likelihood of an incident occurring in the future which may require the use of haemostatic dressings or tourniquets.
  • Size, location and layout of premises
    e.g. Are your premises large or would it take some time for an ambulance to arrive if you are located remotely? Would your first aiders be better able to prevent a casualty with a serious bleed from losing too much blood before additional help arrived?

Further information regarding conducting a first aid needs assessment can be found in the guidance accompanying the Health and Safety (First Aid) RegulationsAdditionally, our qualified consultants can provide guidance and assistance, please visit our Contact page for details of how to get in touch.