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What Should Be in a First Aid Kit?

Thanks to the UK’s strict Health and Safety rules, our workplaces are some of the safest in Europe. But accidents do sometimes happen and immediate, seemingly basic first aid at work could make a big difference to the degree of injury.

The high standards in the UK mean that the number of fatal workplace injuries  in 2017 were less than half of those occurring in EU member states, and prosecutions for negligence brought by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and Scotland’s Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) have fallen year-on-year since 2015. However, every accident is an accident too many, and so it’s important to not only be up to date with all of your workplace safety obligations but to also have First Aid Kit essentials standing by.

In fact, the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 insist that a suitable number of First Aid Kits are readily available for all employees throughout your premises. And while you don’t have to provide access to First Aid Kit supplies for customers and visitors, the HSE, “strongly recommends that non-employees are included in an assessment of first-aid needs and that provision is made for them,” too.

Where can I find emergency first aid at work?

Unfortunately, according to research, as many as 5 out of 6 employees don’t know where the First Aid Kit is located, despite the location of First Aid Kit supplies being displayed on posters at key points throughout the building, along with the details of staff members who have a first aid certificate.

As it makes sense to be prepared for all eventualities, all employees should have the location of First Aid Kits (at least those that are nearest to their work station) pointed out to them at orientation, as well as be introduced to the first aider(s) – more on that later.

Your First Aid Kit should be easy to access, it should also be secure and kept in a cool, dry and safe place, out of the reach of any children who may frequent the property. First aiders often keep a small pack of First Aid Kit essentials to hand so that they can spring into action quickly while sending someone else to fetch the full First Aid Kit. These include a CPR face shield, triangular bandage, medium dressing and protective gloves. This basic First Aid Kit is also handy to keep in the car, in case of emergency.

Not only is it important that staff members know where to find the First Aid Kit and first aider(s), they should also know what they might expect to find on that First Aid Kit list.

What are the First Aid Kit essentials?

It’s not just a requirement to have access to supplies for first aid at work, you must also keep the First Aid Kit stocked and ensure that all contents are in date. But exactly what is in a First Aid Kit that will help first aiders give basic medical attention to the victim of an accident or medical condition, aside from the obvious bandages and plasters (or blue plasters in food prep areas)?

Recommended First Aid Kit contents:

  • first aid guidance card or book
  • Accident Report Book
  • sterile dressings (various sizes)
  • triangular bandages
  • safety pins
  • sterile eye pads
  • assorted plasters
  • alcohol-free sterile wipes
  • adhesive tape
  • disposable gloves
  • CPR face shield
  • scissors
  • disposable apron

The easiest way to ensure that your First Aid Kit essentials are always well stocked is to use a workplace service provider, like phs Group, who will not only provide everything on your First Aid Kit list in a handy and tidy First Aid Kit box, fully compliant with BS8599, they’ll also regularly inspect and restock the First Aid Kit supplies, ensuring items are in date so that the first aiders have access to all they need to carry out essential emergency first aid at work. After each service, you’ll receive an immediate automated email confirmation, detailing the site and products serviced, along with a time-captured signature from the staff member who witnessed the replenishment of the First Aid Kit essentials.

Even better, you can tag the service of your First Aid Kit contents onto other services provided by phs Group, such as other medical services, waste disposal and hand dryer servicing. All of these services not only ensure that your business adheres to Health and Safety regulations but also removes pressure on your own staff to maintain these vital amenities.

Are First Aid Kit contents always the same?

Of course, the nature of your business activities might mean that your First Aid Kit list differs slightly from your neighbours, especially if the people in your organisation work outdoors, or with food or machinery. Perhaps you’ll need to add the following items to your First Aid Kit contents:

  • blue plasters for food prep areas
  • blue tape for food prep areas
  • thermometer (preferably digital)
  • skin rash cream, such as hydrocortisone or calendula
  • antihistamine cream or tablets for allergies or irritants
  • cream or spray to relieve insect bites and stings
  • antiseptic cream
  • painkillers such as paracetamol (or infant paracetamol for children), aspirin (not to be given to children under 16), or ibuprofen
  • distilled water for cleaning wounds
  • eye wash kit

The size of your organisation will also affect what is in your First Aid Kit, with phs Group offering First Aid Kits for 10 or 20 people, all fitted to a wall bracket for ease of access and clear display.

How to become a first aider

The HSE recommends that any organisation with more than 5 people on site, should have at least one trained first aider per 50 staff members. Taking into account that those having had first aid training will, from time to time, be on holiday, sick leave or lunch break, businesses and institutions should also aim to have at least one spare qualified first aider to act as cover. 

Many bodies offer first aid training courses and provide official first aid certificates upon completion, as well as reminders when refresher first aid at work training is due.

First aiders must regularly renew their qualifications through refresher sessions, undertaking full first aid courses every 3 years with an annual refresher first aid course in order to keep them in practice. The cost of these first aid courses will depend on the number attending the first aid training as well as the level of risk at your organisation.

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