Did you know… over 650,000 injuries at work were recorded or reported in during 2016/17?
It’s a pretty sobering statistic and just one of the many reasons why you need to ensure that your office, factory, school or other place of work is adequately prepared for any injuries that may occur to staff or visitors on site.
That prep starts with a workplace first aid kit.
All organisations, regardless of size, should have a first aid kit on site somewhere. But with so many kits out there, and so much conflicting information on what you need and the laws surrounding first aid at work, it can be difficult to know what your actual legal requirements are.
In this post we’ll run through some of the most common questions about workplace first aid kit requirements, workplace first aiders, and your legal requirements for first aid training in the workplace.
Here’s what you need to know.
What are the legal requirements for first aid kits in the workplace?
First up, the official stuff, The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require all employers to provide:
“Adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work.”
These legal regulations, set by the Health & Safety Executive apply to all workplaces including those with less than five employees and also to the self-employed.
“The Regulations do not place a legal duty on employers to make first-aid provision for non-employees such as the public or children in schools. However, HSE strongly recommends that non-employees are included in an assessment of first-aid needs and that provision is made for them.”
What does this mean for your business? Simply that when planning the first aid needs of your organisation, that you should take into account everyone who might visit your workplace as a non-worker.
So, if you’re a school, you need to take into account the number of pupils in attendance. If you’re a café, think about how many customers you can have on-site at a time. If you’re a large historical estate, how many visitors do you expect each day.
What is 'adequate & appropriate'?
The answer to this question is different for each organisation, for example, the needs of a small country school differ wildly from a sprawling agricultural estate. Your needs are also likely to vary over time
As a minimum, you must have:
a suitably stocked first-aid kit
an appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements;
information for all employees giving details of first-aid arrangements.
To properly identify your needs, an initial risk assessment should be carried and should consider:
Are you a low or high risk environment? Low risk environments include offices, libraries, shops, etc.
High risk workplaces include engineering, processing, warehousing, construction and manufacture.
From here you should then consider:
the nature of the work you do
workplace hazards and risks (including specific hazards requiring special arrangements)
the nature and size of your workforce
the work patterns of your staff
holiday and other absences of those who will be first-aiders and appointed persons
your organisation’s history of accidents
You may also need to consider:
the needs of travelling, remote and lone workers
the distribution of your workforce
the remoteness of any of your sites from emergency medical services
whether your employees work on shared or multi-occupancy sites
first-aid provision for non-employees (eg members of the public).
Choosing your Workplace First Aid Kit
BS 8599-1 is the current British standard for first aid kits in the workplace. And can be used as a guide to ascertain which type of first aid kit necessary in the workplace.
There are four sizes of first aid kit widely available: small, medium, large or travel size.
In addition, there are:
Most first aid kits are pre-stocked with the equipment required to meet your needs. Here’s a few of our recommended kits:
Crest 10 person HSE Workplace First Aid Kit from Amazon
Reliance Medical Burn First Aid Kit from Amazon
If you prefer to create your own kit, here’s a rough guide to what you’ll need for a low hazard workplace:
a leaflet on general first aid
medium sterile dressings (12cm x 12cm)
large sterile dressings (18cm x 18cm)
assorted plasters (relevant for the work area)
triangular bandage (90cm x 127cm)
safety pins (assorted)
sterile eye pads
saline cleansing wipes
roll of adhesive tape
sterile adhesive dressing/s
resuscitation face shield with valve
Where to store your first aid kit
Considering where to store your first aid kits sounds simple, but you’d be surprised at the number of times we’ve visited a client’s office and discovered that the majority of staff have no idea where the first aid kit is kept or who their workplace first aiders are.
An easy way to keep everyone in the loop, is to have the area marked with a first aid kit sign, and add all your first aid kit locations as well as a list of first aiders to your induction paperwork or presentation.
You can buy first aid kit stickers cheaply here
How many workplace first aiders do you need?Your risk assessment will help you to decide how many trained first aiders you need for your workplace, but as a rough guide we recommend that:
For a low risk environment: 1 trained first aider per 50 people
For a high risk environment: 1 trained first aider per 25 people.
In addition, to the standard First Aid at Work Certificate, it’s prudent to equip a number of your first aiders with an Emergency First Aid at Work Certificate, particularly for a high risk environment. Accidents can happen anywhere, at any time and it’s always better to be prepared.
All of Fleximed’s First Aid at Work training courses cover the contents of a first aid kit, and what should be included. Our most popular first aid at work courses are now available across the UK and include:
Level 3 Emergency First Aid at Work
Level 3 First Aid at Work
Level 3 Paediatric First Aid