Internet Explorer and Edge browser users:
To download Word, Excel or PowerPoint files please right-click on the file you wish to download, and select 'Save target as...'

Do I need a first aider in my dental practice? Top tips to ensure you are covered

Blog Author Harriet Purdie

Blog Date 30/10/2018




​As a practice manager or practice owner, health and safety at work is your responsibility and it's a very important one.

Ensuring that the correct policies and procedures are in place in case of an accident or emergency are paramount and provision for first aid is not something you can overlook.

Here are some questions we frequently get asked, and some top tips to help make sure you are covered:


Do I need to do a risk assessment?

Yes, you do.

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require you to assess the first aid requirements of your dental practice. The risk assessment should take into account the hazards and risks associated with the activities taking place in your dental practice.

Top tip: Our health and safety at work advice sheet provides BDA members with guide to all you need to know, including first aid at work.

A Health and Safety template policy is also available to BDA Expert members. 


Do I need a trained first aider in my dental practice?

This depends on how big your practice is:

  • If you have less than five workers, you should have at least one appointed person to look after first aid.
  • If you have five or more workers, you might want to consider having a least one person trained in basic 'emergency first aid at work' (EFAW – a one-day course).
  • Dental practices with more than 50 workers, must have at least one first aider who has completed the first aid at work (FAW – three-day course).

Top tip: it is recommended that all first aiders undertake annual refresher training to keep their skills up to date - there are various training providers across the UK.


What responsibilities should the first aider in my dental practice have?

If you do not have a trained first aider who can carry out first aid procedures in your practice, then you should still appoint a member of staff to be responsible for calling the emergency services, if required and to look after your first aid kit, and any facilities/equipment you have that enable first aid.

Top tip: All practices should record any incidents in an accident book, and if you have more than 10 employees, you must must get an accident book from HSE Books or record the details in your own system. You need to protect people's personal details by storing this book in a secure place.


What should be in the first aid kit in my dental practice?

All practices must have at least one first aid box, which is clearly marked with a white cross on a green background. You should put it somewhere where it is visible, and ensure all staff know where it is.

First aid kits should have a leaflet with guidance on first aid, adhesive dressings, eye pads, bandages, safety pins, wound dressings, disposable gloves. A full list is available in our BDA Health and Safety advice sheet.

Top tip: check your first aid kit regularly (every month), to ensure contents are in date and it is correctly stocked.


How do I comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)?

All dental products and materials come with safety data sheets explaining the first aid measures that should be taken if an accident occurs. Dental practices need to ensure this information is easily accessible.

Top tip: Keep your dental products and materials safety data sheets in a central location (e.g. a folder in your reception area), and ensure that all team members know where it is. 


Harriet Purdie, BDA Practice Management Consultant


Adapted from an article by Purdie, H. First aid in the dental setting. BDJ In Practice 2018; 10: 27.

Medical emergencies in the dental practice - training course

Our next course on Medical emergencies in the dental practice is on 14 December 2018 (and repeated on 26 April 2019) - this interactive course will bring you up to date with the latest standards and procedures, equipping you with the necessary skills to manage a medical emergency with confidence. BDA members benefit from a discounted rate.


BDA advisory services

Our advisory services team offers advice to BDA members on a huge range of issues, such as employment law, health and safety, the NHS, business support and regulatory inspections.


We also provide employment representation, an associate contract-checking service, mediation services, tribunal support and consultancy services.


With each new member, our voice and our influence grows. Add your voice, join today.