What training is required to get a First Aid at Work certificate?

Written by Anna Bishop
Nov 3, 2020

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

Getting a First Aid at Work Certificate requires completing a First Aid at Work course and being able to demonstrate understanding and competence in all of the skills covered on the course. 

The course itself must meet include specific topics and meet criteria set by the HSE in their L74 guidance on the Health and Safety (first-aid) Regulations 1981 (“the HSE’s Guidance”). The training provider (or how it’s delivered, if in-house) must also meet the due diligence checks set out in Selecting a first aid training provider: A guide for employers (GEIS3).

In this blog, we cover the most common questions we receive about getting a First Aid at Work certificate.


What is the First Aid at Work Certificate?

The First Aid at Work (FAW) certificate is issued to those who have completed either a 3-day FAW course or a 2-day FAW requalification course.  By the end of the course, they must have demonstrated that they can administer first aid in line with the content of the course, as outlined in the syllabus set out in Appendix 5 of the HSE's Guidance on the first aid regulations. 


Do you need a First Aid at Work Certificate?

Whether you need a First Aid at Work Certificate depends entirely on your first aid needs assessment. The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 ("HSFAR") requires you to ensure there is "an adequate and appropriate level of equipment, facilities and suitable persons to provide first aid for the circumstances.”(Reg.3(1)).

The HSE’s Guidance states that you must carry out a first aid needs assessment to determine what is adequate and appropriate. This involves looking at all of the circumstances of your workplace, including the hazards and risks, present (s.3.4).

For more information on how to carry out a first aid needs assessment, see here.

Your needs assessment will help you determine whether you need qualified first aid personnel or just an appointed person. (An appointed person looks after first aid equipment/facilities and takes charge in an emergency if you don’t have a first aider). The needs assessment will also help you establish what training course is required i.e. Emergency First Aid at Work, First Aid at Work or even additional or bespoke training.

The HSE does have a suggested minimum number of first aiders depending on your workplace risk-level and number of employees (set out in Appendix 3 - see below). But it’s only a recommendation - you must carry out a needs assessment to determine what you need for your workplace. Many factors could mean your workplace deviates from the "norm", such as employees with specific health conditions, the types of injuries that could be sustained or even those who may be more at risk of falling ill with a life-threatening condition. 


How much does it cost to attain a First Aid at Work certificate cost?

The cost to attain a First Aid at Work certificate will, of course, vary and depend in part on the number of learners, how training is delivered and the location. Between providers, it will also depend on the quality of the training. It’s always cheaper than the cost of a life!

For more information on First Aid at Work certificates, see here


What does the First Aid at Work Course teach?

The FAW aims to ensure that learners are competent to give emergency first aid to someone that's injured or becomes ill at work. By the end of the course, learners should be able to apply first aid for a range of injuries and illnesses. (See s.6 of the HSE's Guidance).

On the FAW course, learners will develop the first said skills and confidence to help someone who:

  • is unresponsive and breathing
  • is unresponsive and not breathing (including how to give CPR and use an automated external defibrillator (AED))
  • is choking
  • is bleeding
  • is suffering from shock
  • has burns
  • feels faint
  • has been poisoned
  • has a head injury
  • has hypothermia or heat exhaustion
  • has an injury to a bone, muscle or joint (including spinal injuries).


Learners will also be able to help a casualty who is having a:

  • seizure
  • heart attack, including the administration of aspirin
  • angina attack
  • stroke
  • asthma attack
  • severe allergic reaction
  • diabetic emergency.


In addition to first aid skills, the course covers: : 

  • assessing a casualty
  • monitoring a casualty
  • knowing where to get help
  • dealing with electrical incidents
  • recording and report accidents
  • the control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH).

What due diligence checks must you carry out for First Aid at Work courses?

The HSE has strict criteria that training providers have to meet. In brief, the onus is on you to check:

  • the qualifications expected of trainers and assessors
  • monitoring and quality assurance systems
  • teaching and standards of first-aid practice
  • syllabus content; and
  • certification criteria are met.


If you choose to deliver training in-house it must still be fit for purpose (which essentially means you must meet the above criteria).

(See ss.5 and 13 of the GEIS3 Guidance.)


As we've seen, the only way to obtain a First Aid at Work Certificate is by completing a FAW course and demonstrating understanding and competence in all of the skills included on the course. The FAW is a very popular off the shelf course for many employers but it may not always be the right option for you. You may require less/additional training, or even a much more bespoke course.

We’ve put together The Complete Guide to First Aid at Work, to help guide you through everything you need to know about how to meet your legal duties for first aid. From identifying your workplace risk level to carrying out your first aid needs assessment and choosing the right training course - everything's explained simply.

guide to first aid at work

Topics: First Aid

Share this story
Share on facebook Share on linkedin Share on twitter

Share on facebook Share on linkedin Share on twitter

Back to Index