What Should Be in a First Aid Box?
Whether you work in an office or on a busy construction site, employ less than 5 people or more than 500, having a first aid kit is essential to treat any minor injuries or wounds that may occur during the working day. But what should or should not go into a first aid box? This blog will give you more information and help you decide.
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
This will depend on your first aid risk assessment and the level of hazards at the workplace. 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
- 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
|Low e.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
What shouldn’t be included in a first aid kit?
- No medication or tablets
Our team at Sureteam are often asked if painkillers like paracetamol need to be kept in the first aid box, and the answer is no. Giving tablets or medicines is not part of first aid at work. The only exception is for aspirin where it can be given if the casualty is suffering from a suspected heart attack. So it is recommended that tablets are not kept in the first aid box.
- Personal medication such as asthma inhalers or adrenaline Auto-injector Pens (eg. EpiPen) This should be kept on the person or in their belongings.
- No sharps (needles, scalpels)
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.
If the first aid kit is used, then it should be replenished as soon as possible, so it is fully ready for the next time it is needed.
How many people should be trained as a First Aider?
There are no hard and fast rules about the number of trained first aiders as it will depend on your assessment. You need to take into account the working environment and whether you have first aid cover when people are out of the office or taking holiday. Read more in our blog, How to complete a first aid need assessment.