Whatever trade you are in and wherever your workplace is, even if you are self-employed, there are legal requirements in place regarding First Aid. The building trade is no exception and, as any tradesman will know, the job itself and the sites you work on can be dangerous places. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye and, should you or a colleague be injured at work, it is vital that the correct First Aid is available on site immediately.

In the rare event that an injury sustained should result in death, either your employer or you, if you are self-employed, could be liable for prosecution. The majority of reputable employers are compliant with the First Aid regulations, thanks to the work of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), but the occasional business is still non-compliant, either through lack of knowledge or lack of resources. As such, it is important for all tradesmen to be aware of the legal requirements in order that you can avoid serious injury yourself or avoid prosecution should the worst happen to one of your colleagues.

First Aid Legislation

The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 require all employers to provide appropriate and adequate personnel, facilities and equipment to ensure that any employee that is taken ill or injured at work receives immediate First Aid treatment. The legislation applies to all employees regardless of their trade, even those with fewer than five employees or the self-employed.

Obviously, what is considered ‘appropriate and adequate’ will depend on the business and the facilities available will vary greatly from workplace to workplace. All employers are required by law to carry out an assessment of needs to determine what is required and the HSE can provide guidance for any employer that is unsure of their requirements.


Basic First Aid

The most essential piece of equipment that the vast majority of employees will be required to provide is a comprehensive First Aid kit, although the contents of this will differ depending on the business. In larger establishments, a trained First Aider with up-to-date qualifications will be needed, and businesses with larger premises may also require a dedicated First Aid room.

As a very rough rule of thumb, the bigger the company or the more dangerous the work being carried out there, the more First Aid provisions will be required. For example, employees working with corrosive chemicals or on a hazardous site will need more thorough First Aid facilities than those working within home environments. Nevertheless, safer environments do not exclude you from the legislation so always be mindful of the risks and your obligations!


The Self-Employed and Sole Traders


Like all employers, the self-employed are also required by law to make an assessment of the risks in their workplace and make appropriate arrangements. Those that work in a low-risk environment, such as at home, will not be required to make any more than usual household arrangements for First Aid, but again, those who work in riskier environments will need to be equipped with more comprehensive First Aid kits.


If you are self-employed but work with other self-employed tradesmen, such as on a building site, it may be more economical to make joint arrangements with your colleagues. As ever though, if you are in any doubt, then the HSE are able to offer advice and make recommendations.


Once you have carried out your risk assessments and know what First Aid equipment you will need, there are many companies that will be able to provide you with the essentials.


For First Aid kits and associated workplace gear, including High Visibility vests, we’ve got a wide range of quality products at competitive prices and can deliver them straight to you when you need them. If your risk assessments have determined that you or some of your staff require training then there are many local collages that run HSE approved training courses and there are a number of suppliers offering First Aid training manuals, anatomy models and training and educational charts to help you teach your staff and ensure that your business is completely HSE compliant.


Further Information


If you are in any doubt at all as to your legal requirements or what equipment you need, then further information can be found here http://www.hse.gov.uk/firstaid/legislation.htm.

It is vital that you, whether you are employer or employee, are aware of the workplace First Aid requirements, not only so that you can avoid prosecution, but also so that you can ensure the safety of you and colleagues should the worst happen in your workplace.