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First Aid Guide

What Are The Regulations?

The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 state that all employers should carry out an assessment of their first aid requirements. Although there is no requirement for this assessment to be formal, it may be useful for results to be recorded as employers may have to provide justification as to their level of first aid provision.

The amount of first aid provision an employer should stock is dependant upon the individual characteristics of their workplace. The level of provision should be in proportion to the amount of facilities, equipment and personnel for which it is intended to cover.

In assessing their needs, employers should consider:

  • the nature of the work and workplace hazards and risks
  • the size of the organisation
  • the nature of the workforce
  • the organisations history of accidents
  • the needs of travelling, remote and lone workers
  • work patterns
  • the distribution of the workforce
  • the remoteness of the site from emergency medical services
  • employees working on shared or multi-occupied sites
  • annual leave and other absences of first-aiders and appointed persons
  • any first-aid provision intended for non-employees

Are you aware of the new British Standard for Workplace First Aid Kits?

BS-8599-1 is an all new British Standard to specify the contents of First Aid Kits in the workplace. On 30th June 2011 it came into effect - following this date, BS-8599-1 workplace first aid kits are a clear and safe way for an employer to fulfil their first aid obligations.

The HSE were on the committee that proposed and implemented this standard.

Why Has This Been Implemented?

The BS-8599-1 list of required contents forms part of a modern approach to what is considered to be a suitable range of products in the workplace of today. Factors such as new technologies in product development, different types of injury & risk, alterations to training protocols as well as an increased awareness of infection control have resulted in the current kits no longer being suitable.

This standard will bring workplace first aid kits in line with other safety products such as hard hats and fire extinguishers.

Our previous 'HSE' compliant kits were introduced in 1997 and were based on legislation from 1981 the workplace has evolved, ensure your first aid supplies follow suit!

How Does It Affect Me?

Ultimately, employers are still responsible for carrying out a formal assessment of the first aid provision that are required in the workplace, and ensure that suitable items are available to treat injuries that may arise from any hazards on site. BS-8599-1 specifically relates to adequate contents and supplies guidance on the size of kit needed. In terms of protocol, HSE Law still applies:

  • An employer shall provide or ensure that there are provided such equipment and facilities as are adequate and appropriate in the circumstances for enabling first aid to be rendered to their employees if they are injured or become ill at work
  • The contents of first-aid containers should be examined frequently and should be restocked as soon as possible after use. Sufficient stocks should be held in a back-up stock on site

What If I Don't Comply?

Once a British Standard exists, if an employer chooses not to follow it, and then an employee has an accident, then the employer's legal defence would be very weak in any negligence claim.

For example; a formal risk assessment of any modern workplace would identify the risk of scalding from a boiling kettle, yet current kits do not contain burns dressing which are proven to reduce pain, scarring and infection complications an employer will now be liable for if they have failed to provide sufficient first aid supplies for treatment.

What Are The Specific Changes?

  • Gloves are now Nitrile and the new kits have an increase in the number of pairs previous kits had 1 pair of gloves but 29 dressings
  • Triangular Bandages are no longer recommended for immobilisation of limbs in first aid training protocols, so the number of these within the kit have been reduced
  • Finger dressings have been introduced; previously the smallest dressing was 12x12cm which was impractical for finger injuries where plasters were not suitable
  • Many first aiders prefer not to use safety pins, so Adhesive tape is now included to secure dressings and bandages without the need for pins
  • Burn dressings to cover injuries caused by modern workplace hazards, such as kettles. A conforming bandage should also be included to effectively attach and retain the dressing
  • Shears capable of cutting leather and fabric have also been added in accordance with modern First Aid training protocol. These are used to remove clothing around wound sites to allow first aid treatment
  • A resuscitation device has been introduced, this provides protection from cross infection for first aiders when performing mouthtomouth resuscitation
  • Protection against the effects of clinical shock is enabled by the inclusion of an emergency foil blanket
  • The addition of a sterile eyewash for travel kits to provide eye irrigation when it may not be readily available.
  • Alcohol Free Wipes have been replaced with Sterile Saline Cleansing Wipes to ensure safer treatment of injuries

What Size Of Kit Do I Require?

There are four sizes of BS-8599-1 first aid kit available; Small, Medium, Large and Travel. The old 'HSE' system specified the correct choice of first aid kit based on the number of employees it needed to cover. This approach, however, did not take into consideration the level of risk present in a workplace. Use the table below as a guide to choosing your size of BS-8599-1 compliant first aid kit. The table below can be used as a guide to find the right sized of first aid kit for you:

Category of RiskNumber of EmployeesQuantity and Size of First Aid Kit
Low Risk i.e. Shops & Offices, Libraries etcLess than 25 1 x Small Kit
25 - 1001 x Medium Kit
More than 1001 x Large Kit per 100 employees