What is Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW)?

What is emergency first aid at work?

What is emergency first aid at work?

All employers have a legal responsibility to ensure appropriate first-aid arrangements in their workplace.

The decision about what arrangements are needed will be informed by the first aid needs assessment.  Which takes into account the specific circumstances within the workplace.

If an employer has identified that first-aiders are needed in the workplace, they must ensure that those with first-aid responsibilities undertake appropriate training.

Emergency First Aid at Work training or EFAW is a syllabus devised by the UK HSE that outlines appropriate workplace first aid training.


First Aid at Work (FAW) training covers the full Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) and includes how to deal with minor injuries like cuts and bruises.

This training helps ensure first-aiders meet the recommended standard, as well as enabling employers to meet legal first aid obligations in the UK.

To stay compliant with The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981, all UK businesses must be in a position to provide staff who become ill or are injured at work with adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel. 

This helps ensure that, should an emergency occur, employees will receive immediate attention.  

But what does ‘adequate’ mean?

'Adequate' is the legal term used in the Regulations.  There are no specific requirements set out, instead businesses must determine for themselves what is adequate within their particular context.  

This is achieved by undertaking a first aid needs assessment.

For low risk businesses, a first aid needs assessment does not need to be a difficult or time-consuming process. When assessing your first-aid needs, you should consider:

  • the nature of the work done
  • workplace hazards and risks (including specific hazards requiring special arrangements)
  • the nature and size of the workforce
  • the work patterns of staff
  • holiday and other absences of those who will be first-aiders and appointed persons
  • the organisation’s history of accidents

As a minimum, all businesses must have:

  • a suitably stocked first-aid kit
  • an appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements (eg keeping the first aid kit stocked and calling the emergency services);
  • information for all employees giving details of first-aid arrangements.

For some low risk businesses, the above may be all that is required to ensure first aid provision is adequate and appropriate.

However, if the needs assessment identifies more significant health and safety risks, it is adequate and appropriate for a business to ensure there are a sufficient number of appropriately trained first aiders. It may also be necessary to arrange additional equipment and facilities.

As noted previously, any first-aiders must have undertaken training appropriate to the need of the workplace. The training would typically be either Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) or First Aid at Work (FAW).

What are Workplace First Aid courses for?

All Workplace First Aid courses have the same goal.  They provide the knowledge needed to give emergency first aid to a victim in the critical period before the emergency services arrive.

First Aid at Work courses, in addition to covering emergency first aid, also equips a first-aider to apply first aid in a wider range of situations, beyond initial emergency situations.

Emergency First Aid at Work may sound scary and the natural inclination is to worry that by intervening with a victim before emergency services arrive that more harm will be caused.

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How Long does Emergency First Aid at Work last

The HSE recommends 6 hours face-to-face training to gain an EMAW certification.  The certificate is valid for 3 years. 

What Does Emergency First Aid at Work cover?

Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) courses cover the first aid needed to attend the life-threatening emergencies.

The emergency situations these courses will cover typically include:

  • Falling unconscious, and either
  1. breathing
  2. not-breathing
  3. not-breathing and no circulation
  • Cardiac Emergencies
  • Stroke
  • Bleeding
  • Allergic reaction
  • Diabetes and Epilepsy
  • Burns
  • Breaks and Fractures

In nearly every case, of course, the first action is to call the emergency services immediately.  

The goal of EFAW courses is to explain the simple steps to take before the emergency services arrive. To this end, EFAW courses are often short and concise.  

The echo3education EFAW course teaches first-aiders that, once the emergency services have been called, they need to first think Primary Survey, followed by a Secondary Survey.  

The Primary Survey, or initial assessment, is designed to help the first-aider detect immediate threats to life. Immediate life threats typically involve the patient's ABC: Airways, Breathing and Circulation. For example, if someone collapses at work, first-aiders will know to check if victim’s airways are clear.  If not, they will tilt the head back to help air to pass into the lungs.

This very simple step could save a life.  It’s not difficult or complicated.  

Once any life-threatening problems have been found and corrected, for example through the application of CPR, then a Secondary Survey is undertaken which involves a rapid examination of the entire body to check for any bleeding or fractures.

Emergency first aid is about ensuring victims receive the help they need in the vital minutes before the emergency services arrive. Emergency First Aid training ensures equip first-aiders with the knowledge they need to provide this help.