Can I give first aid training in-house or do I need an external provider?

Written by Alice Squires
Aug 14, 2020

Alice is Training Product Manager for Red Cross Training with responsibility for the training content and delivery of our range of training courses and resources.

While the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) states that first aid training can be provided in house, it should only be considered if you are confident you can meet their very specific list of requirements designed to ensure any first aid training is fit for purpose.

As you can imagine, first aid guidance changes regularly and it can be very difficult to ensure you are training in line with currently accepted first aid practice as required in the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981. However, it is not just as simple as ensuring that clinical content is accurate, you need to be able to show that training and assessment processes meet the required standard as well, ensuring that first aiders are able to act in an emergency confidently.


Should you provide first aid training in-house?

The HSE’s leaflet Selecting a first-aid training provider: A guide for employers explains that while it is acceptable for an employer to provide first aid training in-house, they must be able to demonstrate the first-aid training they offer their employees is both adequate and appropriate. To do this, employers must be able to show that:

  • The content of any first-aid training is appropriate, and delivered in accordance with currently accepted standards of first aid practice. This means that the trainer will likely need to be trained externally and have processes in place for ensuring they are up to date with changes to first aid practice.

The individuals you choose to be trainers and assessors have the necessary skills, qualifications and competencies as would be expected of those working for an external training provider. This includes specified training and assessing qualifications as well as first aid.

  • A quality assurance process where the competence of your trainers and assessors is regularly reviewed by ‘verifiers’. This will need to be done annually by an independent, competent person who is not directly involved with the delivery/assessment of training. You should have a documented quality assurance plan outlining how this will be done. Additionally, to meet quality requirements, you must also have a documented course evaluation programme and complaints procedure, a way of maintaining a detailed record of each learners’ assessment (retained for three years) and sufficient quantity of well-maintained equipment for the number of learners.
  • Appropriate class sizes and the floor space necessary to undertake first aid training. You must also take into consideration needs and capabilities of those doing the training - for example if any learner has any specific learning needs or a disability requiring reasonable adjustments to be made to training (please note adjustments can only be in place for training but not assessment).
  • If the training is emergency first aid at work (EFAW) or first aid at work (FAW) then content must match that specified by the HSE and meet the minimum number contact hours needed to complete the training. If alternative or additional training has been identified in your first aid needs assessment the training should compare the EFAW/FAW course outline and adjust course duration as appropriate e.g. if you include additional skills the course duration should increase to allow additional time for this inclusion.
  • Certificates issued to students contain the appropriate information outlined in Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 s.68 and s.69 such as:
      • the name of the training organisation (your company name if delivered in house)
      • the name of the learner
      • the name of the qualification
      • a validity period of 3 years from the date of completion
      • an indication that the certificate has been issued for the purposes of complying with the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981
      • a statement that the teaching was delivered in accordance with currently accepted first-aid practice; and
      • if the qualification is neither first aid at work or emergency first aid at work the certificate should also provide an outline of the topics covered, usually in the form of an appendix.

        If your organisation is able to meet all the requirements set out by the HSE, then there is no issue with first aid at work training being provided in-house. This approach offers a variety of benefits, such as training can fit easily into work schedules, meaning that there is little disruption to day-to-day activities. On top of this, providing first aid training in-house allows you to create a training course that is tailored to your workplace, with the first aid trainer able to take the specific work processes, environments and any potentially dangerous situations of your business into account.

        However, there are also downsides to providing first aid training in-house. While many organisations perceive in-house training to be cheaper, it often isn’t. To provide in-house first aid training that meets the requirements outlined in the first aid at work regulations, employers must guarantee that their chosen trainers and assessors are qualified, which can be costly. On top of this, often duty holders will need to purchase the equipment needed to deliver the training, as well as the certificates given upon completion. Managing the quality assurance processes such as annual verification of trainers is also time consuming and may need to carried out by an external body to ensure they are competent and unbiased.

        Providing in-house training is a huge responsibility, and if requirements aren’t met it can lead to the delivery of irrelevant first aid training that could be potentially damaging to both your organisation and ultimately employees who depend on first aid in an emergency. Therefore, we recommend outsourcing your first aid training provider.


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Do I need an external first aid training provider?

If your organisation doesn’t have the resources needed to provide in-house first aid training, you will need to choose an external first aid training provider to deliver first aid at work training to your employees. This is often a more cost-effective option, as it doesn’t require employers to make any additional purchases aside from the training itself.

With so many first aid training providers on the market it is essential that you carry out the due diligence required in the ‘selecting a first aid training provider- a guide for employers’.

Using an external provider that meets this standard ensures that the qualifications your first-aiders receive are legitimate, and that the training delivered is compliant with the requirements outlined in the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981. This not only helps your organisation meet legal obligations, but training from a reputable provider assures you that your first-aiders are qualified to perform their duties competently and confidently.


Can the first aid training provider come to my place of work?

The HSE gives no preferred setting for first aid training, so long as it is delivered in a suitable environment with a quality assurance process in place.

For many organisations, in-house training seems preferable as it can be delivered in their place of work. However, many reputable first aid training providers will be able to deliver training at your place of work, so long as you have a dedicated space that meets requirements.

For British Red Cross Training this would be at least 15 m2 of carpeted floor space (or mats to be provided), as well as an LCD screen or clear white wall for presentations; this helps us give the best possible training experience. If you don’t have a suitable space we may be able to offer training in one of our local training venues instead.


About our training

We run scheduled courses through our network of conveniently located training venues across the UK and we can even come to you.

If you have a group of up to 12 people who need first aid training, we can deliver courses on your premises or at a location to suit you. This offers the flexibility to train at a time and date to suit the group and the benefit of learning in a familiar environment.

On top of this, we have the capability to manage your first aid training requirements across multiple sites, so you can have one sole training provider for all of your first-aiders. Our dedicated first aid trainers have over 35 years’ experience in delivering first aid courses to over 130,000 people every year from different venues across the country, and as co-authors of the first aid manual of the Voluntary Aid Societies, we are a training provider you can trust.

With our quick and easy to use calculator, you can get an instant first aid training quote now. 


First aid provision in the workplace

Workplace first aid compliance is vital. Download 'First aid provision in the workplace: A Guide for Businesses' to learn everything you need to know.

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Topics: First Aid

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