First Aid FAQ Responses

Do I need a qualified first aider in my workplace?

A risk assessment in the context of the Safety Statement should consider the numbers employed, the nature of the work, the degree of hazard, the level of accidents arising, the size and location of the workplace, the distribution of the employees, shift working, availability of an occupational health service with the workplace and the distance and duration from external medical services etc.

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How many first aiders should be present in a workplace?

The table below gives an indicative number of first aiders required for different types of workplaces.

Type of WorkplaceMaximum No. of
at any one time
No. of Occupational
First Aiders
Factories, Construction Sites, Surface Mines and Quarriesup to 491 if safety statement risk assessment shows it necessary
50-149Minimum 1
150-299Minimum 2
> 3001 extra for every 150 employees or
part thereof
Underground Mines 1 for every 10 employees
or part thereof
Other workplacesup to 991 if safety statement risk assessment shows it necessary
 more than 7001 extra for every 300 employees or part thereof.

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If the designated occupational first aider is absent from the place of work, what must the employer do?

If the occupational first aider is absent in temporary or exceptional circumstances, the employer may designate a person, to take charge of an injured or ill person until medical assistance is obtained. Such person’s functions, if they have not received training in basic life saving skills, would, primarily be to seek appropriate assistance as soon as possible and to ensure that nothing further is allowed to occur which would exacerbate the problems of the injured person.

Foreseeable absences such as planned annual leave are not considered “temporary or exceptional circumstances” In these situations the employer must ensure that there is an adequate number of trained occupational first aiders to cover the foreseeable absences or leave, if the need for an occupational first aider in the workplace has been identified.

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How is a first aider contacted?
There must be effective means of communication to contact the first aider when required, which will include a telephone/ mobile phone/ pager/ radio.

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How are the emergency services contacted?

The names, addresses and telephone numbers of the local emergency services must be clearly displayed in the workplace. Emergency plans and procedures must be in place and people designated and trained to implement them. It must be clear who makes contact with the emergency services.

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 How long is an occupational first aid training course?

 The PHECC FAR training course is not less than 18 contact hours including assessment but excluding breaks, averaging 6 hours instruction per day.

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What is the retraining/recertification requirement?

For the PHECC FAR award, the recertification course is currently not less than 12 hours including assessment but excluding breaks, averaging 6 hours instruction per day.

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When do occupational first aiders need additional training?

Occupational first aiders may need additional specialised training if a work place has employees exposed to any special hazards such as:

  • risk of poisoning by toxic substances, for example, certain cyanides and related compounds
  • risk of burns from corrosive or oxidising substances, for example, hydrofluoric acid
  • risk of accidental exposure to hazardous substances, for example, toxic, irritant or asphyxiant gases, requiring oxygen for resuscitation
  • Other specific risks identified in the Safety Statement
  • Additional provisions in other regulations such as administration of oxygen

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What is the maximum number of learners/trainees to an instructor?

PHECC FAR instructor/learner ratio is 1:8. This is to ensure learners have sufficient time to develop first aid skills. The instructor is required to have a mannequin and training AED for every 2 learners.

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Who does the first aid assessment?

For the PHECC FAR 3 day course and recertification course, the instructor does the assessment without the need for an examiner. 

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What type of a certificate does a first aider receive?

Learners receive a PHECC first aid response (FAR) certificate or recertification.

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What happens if a first aider’s training lapses?

Recognised Institutions (RIs) and Approved Training Institutions (ATIs) are authorised by PHECC to deliver, examine and issue joint PHECC/institution course completion certificates to successful students.

From the start of 2023 the following arrangement shall apply: The Institution may allow a short grace period if a person’s responder certificate has lapsed, and they are seeking recertification. This grace period should be restricted to extenuating circumstances and be considered on a case-by-case basis. This decision rests with the institution’s course director.

PHECC considers a maximum of 30 days to be an appropriate grace period.

To summarise, where training for an occupational first aider lapses, PHECC FAR recertification is normally required if the lapse is less than 30 days, otherwise the full 3 day training is required. See here for further information.

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How long is certification valid for?

Occupational first aid certification is valid for 2 years after which recertification training is required.

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Are occupational first aid certificates from other countries valid in Ireland?

No -There are no mutual recognition agreements between Ireland and other countries on occupational first aid. Therefore occupational first aid certificates obtained in other countries are not transferable and are not valid in Ireland. In order to be a valid occupational first aider in Ireland, you must do the training in Ireland.

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What should be in a first aid box or travel kit?

The table below shows the recommended contents of first aid boxes and travel kits.

MaterialsFirst Aid Travel Kit Contents

First Aid Box


  1-10 persons11-25 persons26-50 persons*1
Adhesive Plasters20202040
Sterile Eye Pads (No. 16) (bandage attached)2224
Individually Wrapped Triangular Bandages2266
Safety Pins6666
Individually Wrapped Sterile Unmedicated Wound Dressings Medium (No. 8) (10 x 8cm's)1224
Individually Wrapped Sterile Unmedicated Wound Dressings Large (No. 9) (13 x 9cm's)1268
Individually Wrapped Sterile Unmedicated Wound Dressings Extra Large (No. 3) (28 x 17.5cm's)1234
Individually Wrapped Disinfectant Wipes10102040
Paramedic Shears1111
Examination Gloves Pairs351010
Sterile water where there is no clear running water*22x20mls1x500mls2x500mls2x500mls
Pocket Face Mask1111
Water Based Burns Dressing Small (10x10cm's)*31111
Water Based Burns Dressing Large*31111
Crepe Bandage (7cm )1123


*1: Where more than 50 persons are employed, pro-rata provision should be made.

*2: Where mains tap water is not readily available for eye irrigation, sterile water or sterile normal saline (0.9%) in sealed disposable containers should be provided. Each container should hold at least 20ml and should be discarded once the seal is broken. Eye bath/eye cups/refillable containers should not be used for eye irrigation due to risk of cross infection. The container should be CE marked.

*3: Where mains tap water is not readily available for cooling burnt area.

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Is there some flexibility on the contents of boxes and kits?

The above Table provides a general guide on the recommended contents of occupational first aid boxes and kits based on numbers employed.  Quantities indicated in the Table are minimum numbers and can be increased. The requirements for sterile water and water based burns dressings as per note 2 and 3 above are only where there is not a wholesome supply of tap water available. Also a single paramedic shears and pocket face mask is considered adequate.

Occasionally the quantities indicated in the Table will be insufficient and the actual amounts required should be based on a risk assessment. An obvious example is that drivers of dangerous goods vehicles would require a quantity of 2x 500mls of sterile water for eye irrigation in their travel kits due to the risk of contact with hazardous chemicals.

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What first aid records and documentation need to be kept?

The names of occupational first aider must be recorded in the Safety Statement along with the location of the first aid rooms, equipment and facilities.

Written records of the dates of all first aid training, including recertification training should be kept at the workplace and be made available on request to the Health and Safety Inspector.

Records of all cases treated by the first aider should be kept in a suitable secure place, respecting their confidential nature and be made available on request to the Health and Safety Inspector.

The table below shows the details to be recorded.

Name of patientType of injuryTreatment givenName of occupational first aiderDate

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Can a first aider give out painkillers/headache tablets?

First aid does not cover the administration of drugs or medications and they should not be kept in the workplace first aid box or kit. In certain circumstances first aiders can assist in the administration of aspirin if available for suspected cardiac chest pain.

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What is an AED?

A defibrillator is a device that delivers an electric shock to the heart muscle through the chest wall in order to restore a normal heart rate.

An automatic external defibrillator (AED) is a portable defibrillator designed to be automated such that it can be used by persons without substantial medical training who are responding to a cardiac emergency.

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Are occupational first aiders trained in the use of AED?

Yes, AED is part of the PHECC FAR standard and first aiders are trained in its use.

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Are employers required to have an AED?

No, but it would be good practice to have one as long as it is properly maintained.

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Do I have to have a first aid room at my workplace?

Premises must have one or more first aid rooms if the Safety Statement risk assessment shows that it is necessary and based on the following criteria:

  • Premises size
  • Type of activity being carried out
  • Frequency of accidents arising
  • Existence of special hazards
  • Distance from nearest appropriate medical facility.

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What should be considered when planning and designing first aid rooms?

A number of factors need to be considered when planning, designing and equipping first aid rooms:

  • Location to take account of proximity to work areas and access for transport to hospital
  • Sufficient size to include equipment
  • Entrance wide enough to accommodate ambulance trolley, stretcher
  • Impervious floor covering, with surfaces easy to clean
  • Sink facilities with hot and cold running water
  • Provision of telephone

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