What Is an ‘Appointed Person’? – A Quick and Easy Guide


By Skills for Health | 15 December 2020

You may have wondered what your obligations are to provide an appointed person or first aiders in your workplace.

In short, appointed persons are responsible for meeting the basic first aid requirements on your premises. They will keep the onsite first aid kit stocked, report and keep records of first aid incidents, and take charge in an emergency.

We understand it can be tricky to figure out what individual needs your place of work has. So here are the most frequently asked questions answered for you.


What is the definition of an appointed person?

An appointed person is a responsible member of staff who has been tasked with meeting the company’s first aid requirements.

In an emergency situation, the appointed person will take charge of the scene, call an ambulance when needed, and complete the associated paperwork.

If they are not a trained first aider, they should not provide first aid.  There is one exception to this rule, which we explain in-depth further down.


What responsibilities does an appointed person have?

The appointed person’s responsibilities are:

  • Maintaining first aid kits, checking and re-ordering stock to meet company requirements
  • Taking charge of the scene in an emergency, including calling an ambulance if needed
  • Record keeping of incidents and first aid provided

Some additional duties may include:

  • Risk assessments and ensuring enough first aid trained staff are on duty during shifts
  • Overseeing first aiders having their training renewed in time

What is the difference between an appointed person and a first aider?

The two are not mutually exclusive. An appointed person is not necessarily a qualified first aider, but a qualified first aider could be an appointed person.

A first aider is always trained and certified for their role.

To make this really clear, you can think of a first aider as being ‘hands-on’ with an injured person. Whereas an appointed person oversees operations, without being hands-on with the injured person.

An appointed person does not need to be certified in first aid. However, if your appointed person happens to hold a valid and in-date first aid certificate, then they may operate as both roles.

If you need to find training for your team, Ofqual is a good place to search for first aid training programmes available throughout the UK.


Could an appointed person give first aid if a first aider is not available?

There is one occasion where an appointed person may attempt to give first aid, within the bounds of their abilities, and that is in an emergency where the first aider is unable to be there in time.

The Health & Safety Executive makes it clear that this does not include the first aider being on annual leave. If you are required to have a first aider on-site, then you must arrange cover by another first aid certified employee.


So do we need an appointed person or a first aider?

The decision you make as to whether you need an appointed person will come down to the results of your first aid needs assessment. You can find guidance on carrying out your own assessment here.

Once you have been through your assessment you will be clear on which roles you need to fill. So don’t worry, you won’t be left in the dark.

However, if you are left with any outstanding questions then we recommend getting in touch with the Health and Safety Executive.

Ultimately HSE cannot tell you what provisions you need. This decision will come down to you and your organisation. But they can offer further guidance on all the factors you may need to consider.


Does an appointed person need training?

An appointed person does not have to be certified for their role, although many training providers do offer an appointed person course.

Some companies recommend certifying your appointed person to cover all eventualities. This can help companies avoid the legal consequences of not complying with UK law.

Appointed person training is especially popular with employers in the construction industry, or where lifting operations are involved.

Which industries typically train their appointed persons?

As mentioned above, training an appointed person for your workplace is a popular choice in the construction industry, or anywhere that lifting operations are used.  This is because of the health and safety risks around heavy lifting and machinery use.

With this in mind, it makes sense that other industries where health and safety is a big focus are where you will find the most trained appointed persons.

These industries are ones where any of the following circumstances occur:

  • Working at height
  • Working with chemicals or explosives
  • Work involving machinery
  • Work that involves gas, electricity or asbestos

There is one industry that has additional requirements, and that’s offshore oil and gas.  Due to the remote locations, onsite medical teams are required for most facilities.


What are the consequences of not having an appointed person where one is needed?

Without wishing to scare you, there is the possibility of coming up against legal trouble if your organisation fails to meet the first aid requirements in your workplace.

Again, it is important to begin with your first aid needs assessment so that you can be confident about what your organisation should be providing.

While the Health and Safety Executive will prosecute an organisation that disregards its first aid obligations, these cases aren’t common.

In fact, a more common issue that employees and employers alike worry about is if they could be prosecuted for giving first aid with a poor outcome. So let us reassure you if you worry about this too.

There has never been a successful prosecution given in the UK for this.  So although it is still something that newly first aid trained employees worry about, there is in fact no need to be concerned.

If you make an attempt to help with good intentions, it is extremely unlikely that you could be prosecuted for being a good citizen and helping an injured person.  Take a look at the Resuscitation Council UK’s FAQs for more on this.

The most likely outcome is that you will help a little. You may in fact help to save a life.


Cover your staff, cover yourself

So there you have it. Those top questions on appointed persons answered.

We hope this has given you a comprehensive view of the role and responsibilities of an appointed person in the workplace. But if you are still unclear on any requirements, then the best place to ask for help is via the Health and Safety Executive website.

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