If you work in a large organisation, you probably have a hierarchy of people involved in first aid. Maybe you have a Health and Safety manager who has day-to-day responsibility, ably supported by your company's first aiders.
If you're in a smaller company, perhaps your operations manager may have first aid as one of his or her many responsibilities, or maybe a senior first aider might take this on.
But in the smallest of businesses, where regulations don't require it, you may not have a first aider at all. However, you should still have someone who is in charge of first aid equipment, procedures and signage and for the reporting of illnesses and injuries. That person is an appointed person.
So what is an Appointed Person?
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) an appointed person is someone who
“takes charge of first-aid arrangements.The roles of this appointed person include looking after the first-aid equipment and facilities and calling the emergency services when required. They can also provide emergency cover, within their role and competence, where a first-aider is absent due to unforeseen circumstances (annual leave does not count)."
This is the minimum requirement in terms of first aid, for any organisation.
Does my organisation need one?
Yes and no!
OK - that's not very helpful, but let me explain.
Yes - if you work in a small organisation which doesn't have trained first aiders. The duties of an appointed person must still be met by someone. That person must be a named individual, rather than leaving it to anyone who has some spare time!
And no - if you already have trained first aiders, or a health and safety manager who are each fully first aid trained. But at least one of them should formally take on the responsibilities of the appointed person, in addition to their own first aid duties.
So to be clear... there must be a named person in your organisation who has responsibility for 'appointed person activities'.
there must be a named person in your organisation who has responsibility for 'appointed person activities'.
What are the Duties of an Appointed Person?
The main duties include:
- managing first aid kits (location, ordering, restocking, ensuring contents are in-date etc)
- managing other first aid equipment, including any company-specific requirements
- taking charge in an emergency, in the absence of fully-trained first aiders
- Maintaining and managing first aid treatment records (along with first aiders)
Other duties might include (or these might fall to first aiders, H&S managers etc):
- managing first aid training and renewals
- ensuring there are sufficient first aiders on shift to keep staff safe
- carrying out first aid risk assessments
What are the differences between First Aider and Appointed Person?
A first aider is more highly trained than an appointed person.
So while a first aider CAN carry out the responsibilities of an appointed person, the same CANNOT be said for the other way around.
Specifically, unless they've also been trained to do so (with in-date qualifications), an appointed person cannot act as a workplace first aider.
So we'd strongly recommend that you train your appointed person(s) to a minimum of Emergency First Aid at Work standard, which would allow them to fulfil both roles.
The Key Attributes of an Appointed Person
Just as with any health and safety role, it's important that you choose the right staff to be appointed persons. Key requirements for the role include:
It may sound obvious, but your appointed person should spend the vast proportion of their time on the site that they're looking after. So staff who spend a lot of time on the road or in off-site meetings wouldn't be a good choice.
Similarly, your appointed person should be readily available. They may be called upon at short notice to take charge of an emergency. That means they need to be able to put down their regular work and respond very quickly. So avoiding picking staff with time-critical work would be a good idea.
Being responsible for your first aid equipment and emergency response are crucial activities. Make sure that the person who undertakes the role is willing to do so. Otherwise, it simply won't get done.
And they should be able to do so too. It's not just a job for the most available person. You need someone who is organised, quick thinking and logical. They should also have an authoritative personality to allow them to issue instructions to colleagues more senior than themselves.
Finally, they should be calm under pressure. An appointed person needs (to paraphrase Kipling) 'keep their heads when all around them are losing theirs'. First aid emergencies can take many forms, and having someone who will respond without panicking will be invaluable, both in dealing with the situation efficiently and in keeping others calm.
Other Appointed Person related Questions
Can an appointed person administer CPR?
No! Not unless they've been trained (and are currently qualified) as workplace first aiders.
Can an appointed person administer first aid?
Again, no, unless they've been trained in first aid, and have current workplace first aid certificates.
Appointed Person Training
Is there such thing as appointed person training?
In the 'old days', there used to be specific training for your appointed person. It included not only the responsibilities of an appointed person for organising signage, training and equipment, but also covered some basics of first aid training itself.
However that was replaced in 2009 with the introduction of the Emergency First Aid at Work course (EFAW).
The statutory EFAW course was introduced as a basic course for those business that don’t require a full 3-day First Aid at Work qualification, but do require more practical first aid knowledge than the old appointed person course included. It covers the essential skills required to assist in an emergency, while awaiting the arrival of the Emergency Services.
You will find more details of all of our statutory workplace courses on our workplace first aid courses page.
If you need any further information, or would like to discuss the most appropriate course for your organisation, please do get in touch. We will be very happy to help.
Who Still Teaches Appointed Person Courses?
There are still a few providers who offer appointed person courses. At least one of the national providers does so, and most training companies can provide you with shorter, unregulated basic first aid courses (ourselves included).
However, we'd always recommend that you go for one of the formal workplace first aid qualifications instead.
Find out more
If you'd like to find out more, take a look at some of the resources below:
The information included in this guide, and on our website as a whole is for guidance only. It does not replace the need for face-to-face first aid training.
All reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that the information contained herein is accurate. However it is possible that errors exist, or have been introduced over time as best practice changes.
Please ensure that you've undergone proper face-to-face first aid training, and kept your skills up-to-date instead of relying solely on online resources.