What are the 5 different workplace first aid training options available?

Written by Anna Bishop
Sep 28, 2021

Anna is a Training Product Manager at Red Cross Training responsible for the development and review of our training products.

When it comes to arranging workplace first aid training for your organisation, it can feel like there are a lot of decisions to be made. Which course should I choose? Which provider is right for me? Who should be trained?

We’re here to help you navigate these questions.

In this blog, we’ll look at the five different types of workplace first aid training provider available for you to choose from, so you can make the decision that’s best for you.

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to provide ‘adequate and appropriate’ first aid equipment, personnel and facilities to help keep your employees safe. The HSE gives you the flexibility to choose the provider that’s best for you, with guidance available to help you. Our blog will also help you navigate the decisions to be made when choosing workplace first aid training.

The HSE advises that while it is not a requirement to keep a record of the checks you carry out to confirm competence when choosing a provider, it may be a good idea to do so. By keeping a record of the steps you take, you could show an employee, a safety representative, HSE or a local authority inspector how you made the selection. This guidance also contains a checklist to help you.

Whichever training route you take, you will need to ensure that you carry out the right due diligence checks, and ensure that a number of criteria are met. Our guide to selecting a first aid training provider gives further detail on the criteria, such as ensuring that:

  • The content is appropriate and covers the required syllabus in accordance with currently accepted standards
  • Those acting as trainers have the required skills, qualifications and competencies
  • You have a system of quality assurance whereby the competence of trainers is reviewed regularly by competent and independent verifiers
  • Class sizes are appropriate and account for the needs and capabilities of attendees
  • Certificates issued contain information in accordance with HSE guidance
  • There is sufficient minimum contact training time


The five different options for workplace first aid training

When it comes to selecting how your workplace first aid training should be delivered, you can select from various types of external providers, or opt for in-house training. The options include:

1. The Voluntary Aid Societies (VAS)

The Voluntary Aid Societies - British Red Cross, St John Ambulance and St Andrew’s First Aid – all offer first aid courses for the workplace.

Training with a VAS can offer you reassurance about the quality of your training, as the HSE recognises the VAS as the standard setters for currently accepted first aid practice.

Training with a VAS also gives you the reassurance that you are learning from a source that is closely aligned with the very latest first aid science. The British Red Cross, along with the other Voluntary Aid Societies, co-authors the First Aid Manual – the UK’s only authoritative guide to treating casualties in all first aid emergencies.

Download our free guide on how to select a First Aid training provider and discover everything you need to know about choosing training that’s right for you.

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2. Training providers offering courses certificated by an 'awarding organisation' (AO).

First aid qualifications can also be awarded by providers that are recognised by a regulated ‘awarding organisation’ (AO).

This means they have registered with an awarding organisation who then take on responsibility for monitoring the quality of their course and processes. Much like the VAS outlined above, the formal processes and procedures required by awarding organisations can offer a level of reassurance about the accuracy of content on a course and the service you will receive.

Although choosing a workplace first aid training provider who is registered to an awarding organisation may seem like the easiest option, you will still need to carry out your own due diligence to ensure the training meets your needs and is a good fit for your organisation.

3. Providers operating under voluntary accreditation schemes

External providers also include those who operate under voluntary accreditation schemes (such as a trade or industry body), for example The First Aid Industry Body. The bodies do not regulate workplace first aid training in the same way as awarding organisations, so you will need to check what they include in their accreditation process and if it meets the needs of the Health and Safety (first aid) regulations 1981 as well as the needs of your business.


4. Providers that operate independently of any accreditation scheme.

There are also workplace first aid training providers who work completely independently of any schemes. If choosing an independent provider you will need to ensure that they meet all the criteria outlined by the HSE in their guide for employers.

Whilst there are some wonderful training organisations that work independently, the burden of responsibility sits with the booker to carry out all the necessary due diligence and check the provider meets all the requirements outlined in the Health and Safety (first aid) regulations 1981 guidance and supporting documentation - if it doesn’t you may find the training is not valid or fit for purpose.


5. In-house training

If you choose to provide in-house training you will need to prove that you can provide the same standards of training as an external training provider, meeting the standards outlined by the HSE. It’s also essential to make sure your training is always up-to-date and that the content taught is accurate and sufficient. Some larger organisations find that this is a useful way to offer basic first aid training with some taking a hybrid approach and outsourcing more advanced training such as the First aid at Work course.

The HSE suggests that you may wish to maintain good records to ensure you are complying with the law.

Whatever approach you select, you need to ensure that you carry out the right due diligence checks.

Training with the British Red Cross

When it comes to selecting a workplace first aid training provider, it can feel like there is a long list of decisions to be made – but British Red Cross Training is here to support you. Our free guide will help you with further information about how to select a provider.

If you do choose to train with British Red Cross Training you can feel assured that as a registered charity, any profits made from our first aid courses (minus running costs) are filtered directly into our humanitarian work, so you know by helping your colleagues learn life-saving skills, you’re also helping others in crisis.

And as the standard setters for first aid training, British Red Cross Training has over 35 years’ experience of delivering vital training to help make workplaces of all sizes a safer place.


Unsure what to look for in a First Aid training provider?

Download our free guide on how to select a First Aid training provider and discover everything you need to know about choosing training that’s right for you.

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Topics: First Aid

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