Health & Safety Department

First Aiders

First Aid is the skilled provision of treatment for a casualty, using the facilities and materials available while awaiting the arrival of qualified medical assistance.

First Aiders use the facilities and materials available at the time to save life and to prevent any deterioration in the condition of that person while awaiting the arrival of qualified medical assistance (usually an ambulance).

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

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.


List of required contents in a first aid box

First aid box content

First aid boxes can be purchased from various outlets, from local pharmacies to online stationery catalogues including Office Depot, St John Supplies and First aid boxes and refills are also available from the Pharmacy, Richard Verney Health Centre, 6 Bristo Square, Ext. 50 2525.


The University of Edinburgh had been approved by the Health and Safety Executive to deliver training in First Aid at Work since 1991 and now self-accredits to the same standard as previously when under the HSE accrediation scheme.

This training is provided free of charge to University staff in order to ensure there is adequate first aid cover across the University.

First Aid training


A contacts page listing all First Aiders is available below. This is only accessible by University staff and students.

Registering as a University First Aider

If you have a current First Aid at Work certificate from another training institution and wish to become a registered University First Aider, and therefore also receive the First Aid allowance, please contact Lorna Fraser with your name, staff number, Department name and address, and send in a copy of your current certificate for authentication.  You should also provide a statement from your Manager highlighting the need for you as a First Aider in your area.

Mrs Lorna Fraser

Administrative Support Co-ordinator

  • Health and Safety Office

Contact details