Last reviewed 12 November 2021

St John Ambulance has warned lives could be lost at work due to a lack of trained first aiders on site as research reveals half of employees continue to enjoy flexible home and office working.

The health charity surveyed 2000 UK workers. It found that, less than half (49%) of responders believed there was a designated first aider in their workplace in the two weeks prior to being surveyed. This was despite 40% saying they had once witnessed an accident at work that required first aid – of which more than a quarter (27%) were life-threatening. Only four in 10 said they would know what to do in a health emergency themselves.

Cardiac arrest was the most cited life-threatening condition in the survey, with a quarter of people who had witnessed serious first aid incidents naming it in the research. Others were allergic reactions (18%) and choking (13%). Nearly a fifth (17%) of workers said they were aware of a life being saved at work.

Workplaces where there are more significant health and safety risks, such as those where workers handle hazardous substances are more likely to need a trained first-aider on site. A first-aid needs assessment will help employers decide what first aid arrangements are appropriate for their workplace.