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.

First Aid Risk Assessment Form

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.

Environment

Number of Staff

Kit Requirements

Low Hazard workplace eg shops offices

Fewer than 25 employees

1 small kit

25 – 50 employees

1 medium kit

Over 50 employees

1 large kit per 100 employees

Higher Hazard workplace eg. engineering, assembly,warehousing, construction work with dangerous machinery

Fewer than 25 employees

1 small kit

25 – 50 employees

1 medium kit

Over 50 employees

1 large kit per 100 employees

British Standard BS8599-1:2019

Ever since 2011 there has been a new British Standard BS8599 for first aid kits.  In 2014, a BS8599-2 standard was added which describes in-vehicle kits. A further update, to BS8599-1:2019 was introduced in January 2019.

The Standard came into place as workplace environments changed and new first aid products were developed. It describes what kit manufacturers should include in all of their standard kits, and therefore should be used as a guideline for the equipment that workplaces should maintain on their premises.

However, it remains up to individual workplaces to determine, based on their environment and risk assessments, what equipment is required for their particular circumstances.

As the HSE themselves state, 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;
or
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 First Aid Kits under BS8599-1

The 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.

Item

Small

Medium

Large

Travel

First Aid guidance leaflet

1

1

1

1

Medium Dressing

4

6

8

1

Large Dressing

1

2

2

1

Triangular Bandage

2

3

4

2

Safety pins

12

12

24

12

Eye pads

2

3

4

1

Adhesive dressings

40

60

100

20

Sterile wet wipe

20

30

40

4

Microporous tape

1

1

1

1

Nitrile gloves - pair

6

9

12

1

Face shield

1

2

3

1

Foil blanket

1

2

3

1

Burn dressing

1

2

2

1

Clothing shears

1

1

1

1

Conforming bandage

1

2

2

1

Finger dressing

2

3

4

0

Sterile eyewash 250ml

0

0

0

1

Extra Items

Consider keeping additional spare stocks of things such gloves and plasters.

Also, if body fluid spillages are likely to be common, 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.

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