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How often do you have to renew your first aid certificate

schedule 8th November 2018 by Virtual College in Health and Safety Last updated on 8th November 2018

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First aid is a valuable skill for both employers and their employees. It can in mean the difference between life and death in serious situations of accident or illness, but it’s also beneficial for everyday minor injuries that can occur in just about any workplace. The law does require that first aiders are properly trained, which makes the training process a big consideration for businesses. Many people will therefore wonder how long first aid certification lasts. The answer is not entirely straightforward, and it helps to understand a little context first. Let’s take a look.

What Does the Law Say?

The UK’s Health & Safety Executive takes first aid very seriously; there are published guidelines available on the government website that explain exactly what every employer must take into account and what their responsibilities are when it comes to this subject. This includes things like risk assessments, the provision of first aid equipment, and of course the training of designated first aiders. We’ll take a quick look here at the subject of first aiders.

The main point to be aware of is that the law does not specifically mandate the number of first aiders that a business must have on the premises. A business must make sure that they have taken adequate measures for all aspects of first aid for their business and their premises, but there are no hard and fast rules. For example, an office of five people might not need a qualified first aider, but in a workshop of the same size probably will need one. Much of the decision making is left up to the business itself.

However, this doesn’t mean a business can be lax when it comes to first aid. It could still be found to have broken the law if adequate first aid provision isn’t made. And this ties in very heavily with training.

Training Types

In order to answer the headline question, it must be made clear that there are various different types of first aid training. This will heavily influence how often certification must be renewed.

To be regarded as a qualified first aider, a person must have undertaken one of the recognised and accredited courses and been awarded a first aid certificate. In most instances, this will be either an emergency first aid at work course (EFAW), or a first aid at work course (FAW). Without one of these qualifications, an employee cannot be a designated first aider. If a business conducts a risk assessment in line with the HSE’s recommendations, and decides it needs one or more first aiders, then one of these courses must be taken by the designated person/people.


These courses are valid for 3 years from the date that they’re taken, which means that, to stay within the law, they must be renewed within that period. However, this isn’t the whole story. While the certification expires after three years, the general advice is that refresher courses should be taken after the first and second years to ensure that skills and knowledge are up-to-date and effective. These refresher courses are usually only around 3 hours long.

However, as businesses are able to decide for themselves whether or not they need a designated first aider, they can in fact decide that they may simply have someone whose role it is to organise first aid for the business. They may not need a fully recognised first aid course, but there are nonetheless many types of training that they can choose to give a basic understanding of how to deal with a first aid situation. Indeed, these knowledge-based, shorter courses are low cost and not time intensive, so could be ideal for businesses who have low first aid requirements or would like multiple staff to have an understanding. These courses are ideal for yearly refreshers on basic knowledge.

Click here to be taken to the Virtual College course page on the First Aid Primary Survey. Alternatively, take a look at our health and safety section to see more of the courses we offer that are designed to help businesses with their training needs.

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Author: Virtual College

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