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What Should Be in a First Aid Box?

First Aid KitEven in the lowest risk jobs, a first aid kit is essential to treat any minor injuries or wounds that may occur during the working day. The complexity of the contents may vary from job to job depending on what was established as part of the risk assessment. Have you ever wondered what exactly should or shouldn’t go into a first aid box? This will hopefully help to dispel some of the myths and provide some facts:

The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 states:

“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 his employees if they are injured or become ill at work”

What to put in the first aid box

There is no mandatory list of items to put in the first-aid box. It depends on what type of business you have and what activities take place, and the level of risk involved. This is to be assessed by your health and safety officer or employer.

The most common items you should be able to find in a first aid box are the following:

  • a leaflet giving general guidance on first aid (eg HSE’s leaflet Basic advice on first aid at work INDG347)
  • Individually wrapped sterile plasters (of assorted sizes), appropriate to the type of work (you can provide hypoallergenic plasters if necessary). Also be wary of allergies when purchasing plasters. It is common for people to be allergic to the adhesive of material the plaster is made out of.
  • Sterile eye pads;
  • Individually wrapped triangular bandages, preferably sterile;
  • Safety pins & adhesive tape;
  • Large, individually wrapped, sterile, unmedicated wound dressings;
  • Medium-sized, individually wrapped, sterile, unmedicated wound dressings;
  • At least 3 pairs of disposable gloves
  • A foil blanket
  • Burns gel dressing
  • Sterile wipes
  • Scissors
  • Eyewash (if risk assessment requires it)

Size of kit

There are 4 different sizes of first aid kit that comply with British Standard BS8599. Small, medium, large and travel kits.

Category of hazard Number of employees Number and size of first aid kit
Lowe.g office, library, shops Less than 25



More than 100




1 large kit per 100 employees


Light engineering, food processing, warehousing, working with machinery, sharp instruments, construction.

Less than 5



More than 25




1 large kit per 25 employees

Where should the first aid kit be kept?

The kit needs to be accessible in an emergency to be able to treat people. You should post a prominent sign to indicate where the first aid kit is kept and ensure that all employees know where to find it. The kit should always be returned to this place once used.

How often should the kit be checked/ replaced?

There is no specified review timetable however, many items are marked with expiry dates. You should replace these by the dates given and dispose of the expired items safely. For non-sterile items without dates, it is a matter of judgement, based on whether they are fit for purpose.

What shouldn’t be included in First aid kit

  • No pills including painkillers
  • Personal medication. This should be kept on the person or in their belongings.
  • Asthma inhalers (these are prescription only and therefore should be used by the person they have been prescribed for only.)
  • Adrenaline auto-injector/ epi pens
  • No sharps (needles, scalpels)

Is it time for an audit?

Can you confidently say that your health and safety procedures up completely up to scratch from fire risk assessments to first aid kits?

Why not leave it to the experts? With over 60 years’ experience amongst our health and safety auditing team, you can be sure you’ve got it covered and can focus your work on other aspects of your business.

To have a chat to a member of our team, give us a call on 01666 503 686 or complete our quick contact form.