What should be in your First aid Kit?
Start with your Risk Assessment
The contents of your company's first aid kit(s) are entirely dependent upon the findings of your most recent risk assessment. Your risk assessment tells you about the hazards present in your organisation, the risks that are associated with them, and is a starting point to determining what measures you need to put in place to safeguard your employees.
We shall shortly be releasing a free e-book to help you to complete your risk assessment. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also carry a great deal of useful information on their website to assist you. If you still need further assistance in completing yours, please feel free to contact us.
Your risk assessment must take into account the numbers of staff in the workplace, and they types of risks and hazards that they face. The first aid kit(s) should then be stocked accordingly.
Shift, lone and mobile workers should also be considered when looking at first aid requirements.
Quick Guide to Quantities of First Aid Kits Required
The following gives indicative (minimum) numbers of first aid kits required by different types of businesses, depending upon their numbers of employees. Please note that these figures assume that employees are working on a single site. Workers split across multiple sites and in separate buildings (and in many cases even across different floors), should be treated as separate workplaces for the purposes of calculating the number of kits required.
|Low Hazard workplace eg shops offices||
Less than 25 employees
25 - 50 employees
Over 50 employees
1 small kit
1 medium kit
1 large kit per 100 employees
|Higher Hazard workplace eg.engineering, assembly,warehousing, construction work with dangerous machinery||
Less than 5 employees
5 - 25 employees
Over 25 employees
1 small kit
1 medium kit
1 large kit per 100 employees
British Standard BS8599
As of 2011 there has been a new British Standard BS8599 released for first aid kits. You will read in many places (particularly on many first aid kit supplier websites) that this first aid kit is now mandatory, and that failing to replace your kit places you in breach of the regulations. It does not.
The new British Standard has come into place as workplace environments have changed and new first aid products have been developed. Current Workplace standard kits (1, 10, 20 and 50 person) have been in place since 1997, based on the guidelines from the British Healthcare Trade Association (BHTA). The BHTA will withdraw the previous standard from 31st December 2011.
However the HSE has stated that it is not a mandatory requirement under the Health & Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 to have a kit which complies with the British Standard. To quote the HSE's own website:
There is a British Standard BS 8599 for first aid kits, it is not a regulatory requirement under the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 to purchase kits that comply with this standard. Instead the contents of a first aid box is dependent on an employers first aid needs assessment. This means for employers following a needs assessment the options are:
1. Within your workplace you have access to a first aid kit whose contents complies with BS 8599 and matches your needs assessment;
2. Within your workplace you have access to a first aid kit whose contents matches your needs assessment but does not comply with the requirements of BS 8599.
Contents of the New British Standard First Aid Kits
However, the new British Standard kit does introduce some useful additional contents over and above those in the old standard kit. Thus there are now more pairs of gloves, (made of nitrile to reduce allergies) additional wipes and plasters, foil blankets, resuscitation devices and scissors. There are fewer triangular bandages to reflect the fact that lower limbs are no longer immobilised. For travel kits where access to water is likely to be difficult, eye wash has been added in.
The new British Standard Kits come in 4 sizes, small, medium, large and travel. Your risk assessment will tell you which size of kit and quantity is suitable for your environment.
|First Aid guidance leaflet||1||1||1||1|
|Medium Dressing 12x12 cm||4||6||8||1|
|Eye pads/bandage no 16||2||3||4||0|
|Assorted washproof plasters||40||60||100||10|
|Saline cleansing wipes||20||30||40||4|
|Microporous tape x5m||1||1||1||1|
|Pairs of Nitrile powder free gloves||6||9||12||1|
|Mouth to mouth resuscitation shield||1||1||2||1|
|Tuff cut Scissors||1||1||1||1|
Considering keeping additional spare stocks of things such gloves and plasters.
If body fluid spillages are likely to be common, also think about how the mess can be cleaned. Having access to body fluid spillage kits could also be a good idea.
Well Stocked and Well Located
Ensure that all kits are restocked after use. There is nothing worse in an emergency than going to get an item out of your first aid kit, only to find that the item is missing.
First Aid kits should be kept in a place where they are easily accessible. They should also be easily identifiable. The symbol of a white cross on a green background is an internationally recognised symbol for first aid kits.
The kits should be well stocked with clean, in date materials and dressings in them. Please note that dressings etc have an expiry date on them after which they should not be used as the manufacturers are unable to guarantee they remain sterile after that date. Ideally they should be located close to facilities with running water to facilitate cleaning of minor wounds etc.
Fill Out your Accident Book
Finally, whenever you have used the kit and restocked it, don’t forget to fill in the accident book and any other paperwork your organisation requires.
In the free What Should be in a First Aid Kit e-book version of this document, you will find a printable checklist for each of the standard kits, which you can use to carry out a regular check to ensure that contents are present and in-date.
First Aid Training
Contents of a first aid kit is covered during the course of the one day (EFAW), two day (RFAW) and three day (FAW) first aid at work series of training courses. For more details on the contents of each of these courses, please click on their respective links.