• Tim

How many First Aiders do I Need?

Updated: Jan 31

Having the correct first aid provision in your workplace is not only a legal requirement, it's incredibly important for the safety of you and your employees. However, here at Custom Training we know that it can be difficult to determine exactly how many first aiders you need, and what type of training they require.

This blog post should help you answer those questions and covers both physical and mental health first aid requirements.

The Law

The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, require employers to...

Provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work.

So what does this mean? Well, it means that as an employer, you are best placed to work out what is 'adequate and appropriate'.

It's worth noting at this point that the Health and Safety Executive strongly recommend that employers also provide cover for non-employees, such as the public or children in schools.

Needs Assessment

So how do you know what is required? You complete a First Aid Needs Assessment.

This process is much like any other risk assessment. You identify the hazards and calculate the risks before deciding what control measures are required. Needs assessments should be regularly reviewed (usually annually) or when there are any significant changes to the business.

Hazards and Risks

The hazards and risks for your workplace will depend on:

  • The nature of the work you do

  • Specific workplace hazards

  • The nature and size of your workforce

  • The work patterns of your staff

  • Holiday and other absences of those who will be first-aiders

  • Your organisation’s history of accidents

You may also wish to consider:

  • The needs of travelling, remote and lone workers

  • The geographical distribution of your workforce

  • The remoteness of any of your sites from emergency medical services

  • Whether your employees work on shared or multi-occupancy sites

  • First-aid provision for non-employees (eg members of the public)

Control Measures

Once you've considered the risks, you can then decide what first aid control measures should be put in place. These normally consist of deciding:

  • How many trained first aiders are required

  • What level of training is required

  • What first aid equipment is required

  • Whether a first aid room is required

Having identified these control measures, you should implement them and review as necessary. We recommend an annual check, or when there are any significant changes to your organisation.

Please get in touch if you'd like any free advice regarding your first aid needs assessment.


Mental Health First Aid Requirements

Now that you've considered the physical health first aid needs of your employees, you should consider their mental health first aid needs.

We all have mental health, and just like our physical health, it can go wrong.

Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year and 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week. 'Mixed anxiety and depression' has been estimated to cause one fifth of days lost from work in Britain.

Certain sectors face a bigger problem than others. For instance, male site workers in construction are three times more likely to commit suicide than the average UK male.

HSE Guidance

As mental health first aid has only just arrived at the 'employee wellbeing' party, the HSE don't provide guidance on numbers of trained people. However, they do say that:

You should consider ways to manage mental ill health in your workplace which are appropriate for your business, such as providing information or training for managers and employees... [including] appointing mental health trained first aiders...

Mental health first aid training teaches delegates how to recognise the warning signs of mental ill health and helps them to develop the skills and confidence to approach and support someone, while keeping themselves safe.

Mental Health First Aid Training

For most organisations, the impact of mental health problems is similar to (if not greater than) that for physical health problems. It's definitely far more significant than physical first aid problems.

When it comes to workplace mental health however, you have the opportunity to minimise the impact of problems. Raising awareness of mental health and training Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs) makes a significant difference and according to some research has up to a 9x return on investment.

Raising awareness of mental health in staff and managers leads to a mentally healthier culture that minimises the impact of work on individual mental health and your organisation.

Having MHFAs enables early intervention when there is a problem, again minimising the impact of the problem on the individual and your organisation.

We provide a number of on-site or on-line workplace mental health courses, including:

  1. Mental Health Awareness for Staff - half day

  2. Mental Health Awareness for Managers - half day

  3. Mental Health First Aider - 1 day

  4. Workplace Mental Health First Aider - 2 days

How many staff you require trained in each course will depend on your circumstances.

Our recommendation is that the number of mental health first aiders should match that of your physical health first aiders.

As for mental health awareness, our view is that the more people who are trained the better!

Please get in touch if you'd like any free advice about mental health training in your organisation.


If you'd like to know more about first aid or mental health courses, or would like free, no obligation support in conducting a first aid needs assessment, please get in touch.