The availability and provision of first aid within a business is covered under the The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 and it is under this legislation that first aid kits in the workplace are a legal requirement.
Does my business need a first aid kit?
Whilst the onus is on a business to ensure that they provide a suitable level of first aid equipment and what constitutes a suitable level can only be established by a review of the business and the exposure to injury that employees or members of the public may face, a first aid kit is regarded as the minimum level of equipment for all businesses.
What do I need in my first aid kit?
Whilst there are are no prescribed contents for a first aid kit the Health and Safety Executive does provide some guidance on what the contents of what a basic first aid kit should contain and this includes
- a leaflet giving general guidance on first aid e.g. HSE’s leaflet: Basic advice on first aid at work
- 20 individually wrapped sterile plasters of assorted sizes, appropriate to the type of work (you may wish to provide hypo-allergenic plasters);
- two sterile eye pads;
- four individually wrapped triangular bandages, preferably sterile;
- six safety pins;
- two large, individually wrapped, sterile, un-medicated wound dressings;
- six medium-sized, individually wrapped, sterile, un-medicated wound dressings;
- a pair of disposable gloves
A simple solution to providing an appropriate first aid kit for your business is to purchase a kit that complies with British Standard BS 8599. These kits are easily located from suppliers on the internet and you will be able to purchase a kit or kits designed to meet the needs of your business depending upon the number of employees you have.
Should I keep pills and medicines in the first aid kit?
Many employers will feel it prudent to maintain a stock of pills and medicines perhaps for basic pain relief but you should be aware that the Health and Safety Executive advises against this.
How often does the first aid kit need to be checked and refilled?
There is no legally required checking schedule for first aid kits and it is a general responsibility of the business and the first aid approved person or first aiders to ensure that the contents of the kit are “in-date” and stocked correctly.
Do I need to provide first aid kits to employees who work from home or away from the business premises?
This is a question that should be answered by your own assessment of your first aid needs. For many businesses such as contractors working on site, clearly it will be appropriate to make suitable arrangements, a representative travelling around in a car all day may have different needs.
As an employer or business owner it is your responsibility to both assess your risks and determine the first aid equipment requirements of your business.