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Employer first aid obligations for employees working from home

Employers must ensure that they comply with their obligations under the First Aid Regulations as their employees transition to working from home on a more permanent basis. These regulations are a key part of the wider health and safety requirements that employers must provide for their staff working from home, which should match the health and safety provided to office workers. Employers should also pay specific attention to individuals classed as lone workers, who might be particularly vulnerable to hazards and risks as they work alone.

Under the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981, there are specific duties that employers must carry out. These include:

  • making provision for first aid. Employers must provide the necessary equipment and facilities for first aid to be carried out as well as training on how to administer first aid.

  • informing employees of first aid arrangements. Employers must inform their employees on arrangements relating to the provision of first aid (including the location, facilities and personnel involved in first aid).

Self-employed persons (eg consultants) must provide necessary equipment to enable themselves to apply first aid while at work.

First aid equipment is used to reduce the effects of any injury or illness and summon an ambulance if required. The provision of first aid must be ‘adequate and appropriate in the circumstances.’ This means that the level of first aid equipment and training that employers must provide their employees varies according to the hazards and risks involved in their workload.

Employers should carry out a first aid needs assessment to identify what level of first aid provision is necessary for their employees. This assessment should take into account:

  • nature of the work

  • nature of the workforce

  • history of accidents in the organisation

  • size of the organisation

  • needs of travelling, remote and lone workers

  • work patterns

  • distribution of the workforce

  • remoteness of the site from emergency medical services

  • employees working on shared sites

  • annual leave and other absences of first-aiders and appointed persons

There is no legal requirement to keep a written record of this assessment. However, a record may be useful to demonstrate to an HSE or local authority inspector how the first aid needs of the role were identified. As a benchmark, employers should ensure that their employees working from home have access to:

  • a first aid kit to treat basic injuries

  • a mobile phone / home phone to summon an ambulance

Health and safety requirements vary according to the level of risk identified in the employer’s first aid needs assessment.

A lone worker is an individual ‘who works by themselves without close or direct supervision.’ This includes:

  • lone working from home

  • lone working in a fixed base (eg in a shop, petrol station, warehouse, etc.) 

  • lone working away from a fixed base (eg delivery drivers, taxi drivers, social care workers)

  • working separately from colleagues on the same premises or outside normal working hours (eg security staff or cleaners)

Individuals working alone may be particularly vulnerable to risks and hazards without the support of colleagues or first aid equipment that an office provides. Therefore, employers should take extra care to follow the First Aid Regulations in order to protect lone workers.

Lone workers in low-risk environments (eg undertaking home-based desk work) require only the most basic first aid equipment. Whereas lone workers in high-risk environments (eg jobs involving lots of driving) require more first aid equipment and training.

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