Health & Safety Department

First aid

Requirements under the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981.

Employers have a duty to make provision for First Aid under the Health and Safety (First Aid at Work) Regulations 1981.

Number of first aiders required?

The number of staff trained in first aid in a particular area within an area depends on the number of people that work in a particular area and the hazards associated with the work which is carried out there.

For example, an area which regularly has a high number of people working in it, or which has people with special health problems, would need more first aiders than one which only has a few people working in it. Similarly, laboratories which use chemicals or dangerous machinery must have greater first aid cover than office areas.

It is for each department to assess their first aid needs in the light of their particular circumstances. However, it is important for departments to consider that First Aiders are trained to provide first aid cover not only to their own department but also to others within the local vicinity or where the need arises. This is particularly relevant in multi-occupancy buildings, which accommodate several departments. Some smaller departments may therefore not require their own staff to be trained in first aid depending on the number of First Aiders available in the local vicinity.

Details in the following table are suggestions only - they are not definitive nor are they a legal requirement.

Suggested number of first aiders
Category of risk Numbers employed at any location Suggested number of first aid personnel
Lower Risk (Offices / Libraries) <50 At least 1 person trained in Emergency First Aid at Work
  50-100 At least 1 first aider
  >100 1 additional first aider for every 100 employed
Medium Risk (Catering / Sports & Exercise, etc) <20 At least 1 person trained in Emergency First Aid at Work
  20-100 At least 1 First aider for every 50 employed
  >100 1 additional first aider for every 100 employed
High Risk (Laboratories / Workshops) <5 At least 1 person trained in Emergency First Aid at Work
  5-50 At least one first aider
  >50 One additional first aider for every 50 employed

Becoming a first aider

To become a qualified first aider you must be able to cope with stressful situations and physically demanding procedures.  You must also attend a three day training course and then successfully complete a short practical and oral assessment, after which you will be awarded a First at Work Certificate which is valid for three years. Training is then kept up to date by means of a two day requalification course and assessment.

Further information on first aid training

Automatic External Defibrillators (AED) Policy

Automatic external defibrillators are portable battery powered pieces of equipment which are designed to restore the normal electrical heart rhythm in an emergency situation when a person has suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.

The decision on whether to provide defibrillators in University areas should be taken on the basis of a risk assessment. Further guidance on this risk assessment, purchasing policy, siting, training and maintenance for AED's is available at  AED policy.

Further help for first aiders

Online guidance and resources, including fact sheets and contents of first aid box, is available aid staff to fulfil their first aid role.

First aid notices

Notices must be placed in each school/unit informing staff who and where the first aiders or Emergency First Aiders are and where the first aid box is located. First Aiders are responsible for ensuring that the local Safety Advisers in their area are infromed of their qualification to ensure that the notices are kept up to date and are readily visible in all areas of a school/unit. First aid notices are available from the Training and Audit Unit on request and a list of first aid personnel is available online.

Training and Audit Unit

Contact details

First aid room

A suitable first aid room should be provided where the assessment of first aid needs identifies this as necessary. Ideally the room should be reserved exclusively for giving first aid but it is accepted that this is not always possible in the University due to lack of space. If it is the case, the department must ensure that the first aid facilities and equipment can be made available quickly if necessary. The purchase of a folding bed and screen should be considered for use in a rest room or office space for example. The First Aid room must be clearly signposted and identified by white lettering or symbols on a green background. It could include the following:

  • Sink with hot and cold running water
  • Drinking water and disposable cups
  • Soap and paper towels
  • First aid box
  • Container suitable for the safe disposal of clinical waste
  • A couch (or folding bed) with waterproof protection and clean pillows and blankets
  • A chair
  • A telephone

First aid honorarium

Trained University First Aiders receive a small honorarium, authorised by the Training and Audit Unit and paid by the Salaries section. Any employee who holds a First Aid at Work certificate issued by an organisation other than the University and who wishes to become a University First Aider must forward a referal statement of requeirment from their Line Manager along with a copy of their current certificate to the Training and Audit Unit for approval.

Training and Audit Unit

  • Health and Safety Department
  • The University of Edinburgh

Contact details



Charles Stewart House
9-16 Chambers Street

Post Code

First aid provision during Graduation Ceremonies and other University Events


Trained University First Aiders can volunteer to attend the graduation ceremonies, usually held in July, November/December each year and provide first aid cover. Two University First Aiders are expected to be present for approximately 2 hours per session. First Aiders must seek permission from their Head of School/Unit to be absent from their normal duties during the graduations.

Other Events

Occassionally the University hosts other events that require First Aiders to attend. If you require First Aiders to attend an event that you are hosting you should in the first instance approach your local area First Aiders. A list of these can be found on the Health and Safety Department Website on the link below. Under exceptional circumstances, and given adequate notice, if you are unable to obtain First Aiders for your event the Health and Safety Department may be able to help. A remuneration will be paid by the hosting School/Department to each First Aider, for each session attended.

Mrs Lorna Fraser

Administrative Support Co-ordinator

  • Health and Safety Office

Contact details