No matter what industry your business is in, accidents are bound to occur. And although this risk should be reduced by implementing the correct control measures, a fully and correctly stocked first aid kit must always be on hand.
The Health and Safety Regulations 1981 require all employers to provide adequate and appropriate first aid equipment to ensure that employees receive immediate attention if they are taken ill or are injured at work - preventing minor injuries from becoming major ones and possibly saving lives.
A risk assessment must be carried out to decide how many first aid kits your workplace needs. This must be done by a competent and skilled employee and factors in three main points:
For high-risk workplaces, including laboratories, construction sites, or any work environment that involves manufacturing, chemicals or sharp/dangerous machinery, we recommend:
For low-risk environments, including most retail shops, libraries, offices and schools, we recommend:
A first aid kit should contain all the basic, necessary equipment needed to treat superficial injuries that don’t require emergency attention. This includes:
First aid kits made specifically for burns are also available, which contain essential supplies for responding to burns and scalds and eye wash stations, perfect for use in garages, workshops, welding areas and other industrial environments with potential eye-related hazards.
If your First Aid Kit supplies are running low, rememer that you can purchase First Aid Refills and supplies, which can be more cost-effective than a whole new kit.
Ensure expiration dates are consistently monitored, used items are replaced, and the kit you’re using complies with the British Standard BS 8599-1. This will ensure that the kit contains suitable equipment and is safe and hygienic for use.
The list above is not exhaustive, and your first aid risk assessment should guide the contents of first aid kits in your workplace or public places.
Although there is no exact location for a first aid kit to be stored, it should be in a clearly visible place, highlighted with a First Aid Sign nearby so it can be found easily. It should also be located in a very accessible place so that anyone needing treatment can reach the kit effortlessly.
For health and safety reasons, we recommend placing first aid kits as far away as possible from work activities that create debris or high-temperature environments. This ensures the integrity of the items inside is protected and keeps your kit sterile and ready for use at any time.
This guide provides an overview of First Aid Kits and Supplies in workplaces, but a risk assessment should be carried out to ensure your workplace is fully prepared to provide the correct first aid. Understanding your workplace's risks and hazards means that if any of your employees sustain an injury, all the necessary equipment to respond is ready so they feel comfortable and safe in their work environment.
Don't forget that First Aid Kits are insufficient to deal with life-threatening emergencies; always dial 999 and contact your designated first aider to attend to the casualty until the emergency crew arrive.
Richard O'Connor is a Director at First Mats. He has deep knowledge in areas like Manufacturing, Warehousing, Marine, and Health & Safety. Richard's insights have been featured in well-known publications such as Bloomberg Business, The Sun, and Reader's Digest. His blend of industry expertise and passion for sharing makes him a sought-after voice in his fields.