Some companies’ need for first aid provision is considerably higher than others. This is because they count as a high-hazard business in terms of the 1981 first aid at work legislation. That is one that has additional hazards that need to be accounted for in case of accident, injury, or illness. 

Unfortunately, things can quickly get confusing in this area. What with risk and first aid assessments both being legal requirements, and being so similar. Even the terms hazard and risk can be confusing! Not to mention the fact that companies are required to have first aid provision that is adequate and appropriate to the level of hazards that they are working with. 

Fortunately, if you are wondering just what a high-hazard business is in terms of first aid at work legislation, and what you need to put in place if you are one, check out the information below. Where all your questions will be answered.


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Defining the key terms 

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of first aid assessments, we need a clear grasp of what these terms mean. 

First of all, the term risk refers to things that increase the likelihood of a severe injury when working with a hazard. That is how likely it is that a particular hazard will cause harm. For example, working at heights without the proper safety gear, training, or due diligence are all risks that increase the likelihood that the hazard of height will cause harm. 

Hazards, on the other hand, refers directly to the item, object, or process that could cause harm. For example, when working at height, the height is the hazard. That is, if someone falls from a great height, the chance they will be severely injured is high. This makes working at heights a high-hazard business in terms of risk assessment. 


First aid assessment vs. risk assessment 

However, as you already know, we are discussing first aid assessment. Therefore, begging the question, what does a business risk assessment level have to do with the first aid assessment?

Well, first of all, there are many similarities between a risk assessment and a first aid assessment. These include the fact that they are both required by law, they both deal with risks and hazards, and businesses that wish to be responsible employees will prioritize them. 

Of course, a risk assessment and a first aid assessment are not the same things. In fact, the former differs from the latter. This is because it is specifically focused on making sure anyone needing help if the worst does happen, will receive it as effectively as possible. You may even say that a risk assessment is about minimizing the chances of something bad happening. While a first aid assessment is concerned with making sure that if the worst does occur, those that are injured will get the best possible help.

However, it is also important to point out that while separate, there is a connection between risk and first aid assessments. In fact, the HSE suggests businesses with a high-hazard risk assessment rating are also likely to need additional provision when it comes to first aid assessment. 

A point that makes sense when you consider the illustration of a low-level hazard office environment versus a workplace where heavy machinery, dangerous chemicals, or working at height is involved. 


What to think about in a first aid assessment

Of course, ensuring that you have ‘appropriate and adequate’ first aid provision isn’t as easy as only looking at the type of hazards that your business works with. In fact, there are other aspects to consider as well, including : 

  • First aid Equipment  
  • Personnel 
  • Response Time 
  • Facilities 

Fortunately, the HSE has issued advice on what to look for when assessing first aid needs, which you can find summarised below.


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Hazards – The danger level of the workplace situation 

The first of these is the hazard level, as discussed above. That is, you need to consider whether your business is a low-level or high-level hazard environment. 

If it is the latter, making sure you have a trained first aider on site is important. Along with providing additional first aid equipment and facilities such as a burns kit, a stretcher for back injuries, or whatever is appropriate to the hazards your employees are working with. 

Risks – The things that increase the likelihood of a severe injury when working with a hazard 

There will be several things that could increase the likelihood of serious injury when working with a particular hazard in your business. 


First of all, consider the number of people you employ. If there are 25 or over, having a trained first aider on site is an excellent idea. 

Additionally, you need to query whether your employees have any particular health issues like allergies or a pre-existing heart condition. The reason being that these can also raise the risk of a serious injury occurring. 

Working arrangements

Also, consider the way that your employees work. For example, you may have workers that operate separately from your official premises. Something that means they need first supplies, training, and a way of contacting help. 

Additionaltionally, remember that first aid provisions need to cover all times and places where your employees are working. This includes working patterns such as night shifts and ensuring there is adequate provision in each work area or building. 

With that in mind, you must ensure there are enough first aiders on-site to cover absence or holidays. After all, accidents don’t always happen at convenient times. Therefore, to be adequately prepared as a high-hazard business, it’s best to have a first aider on hand at all times. 

Accidents record

It is also helpful to look back over the record of what has already happened in your workplace. Then you can put in place the provision and equipment needed to deal with the possible risks. 

Access for emergency medical services

Finally, remember too that on some sites, access may be limited and cause a delay in the arrival of emergency services. Something that means additional resources, equipment, and training may be needed to minimise suffering and injury after an incident in a high-hazard situation. 

Skills Training Group offer a range of first aid courses. If you’d like further information on these courses call us on 0808 164 2780.


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