Workplace First Aid Kits get a British Standard makeover

Probably all households have that special cupboard converted to a makeshift first aid cabinet full of assorted first aid products assembled over the years. Half empty boxes of first aid plasters, bandages, dressings and antiseptic balms are all jumbled together for those inevitable little accidents and emergencies. Of course when they are needed you can never find a plaster of the right size, the finger guard has gone missing or the medical tape has perished.

In the home this is all part of the living experience but in the workplace the consequences of not having a viable first aid kit will lead you to fall foul of the Health & Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 that obliges that “An employer shall provide or ensure (provision of) such equipment and facilities as are adequate and appropriate in the circumstances for enabling first aid to be rendered to ……employees if they are injured or become ill at work”First Aid Kit

Attitudes to Risk Assessment and the workplace environment has moved on since 1981 and British Standards with advice from HSE, has produced a new standard BS 8599 for workplace first aid kits that replaces the old British Healthcare Trade Association (BHTA) guideline. We will be phasing in the new kits over the next few weeks to meet the required implementation date of December 31st.

The new Standard has revised the product and equipment content of workplace first aid kits to improve safety provision for both patient and first aiders. The Standard details 3 sizes, small first aid kits, medium first aid kits and large first aid kits appropriate to the size of the workforce and the level of workplace safety risk but all will contain the same basic contents in varying quantities.

First aid Kits to BS 8599 will contain the following:

• First Aid Plasters – more quantity
• Nitrile Gloves – more quantity
• Sterile Wipes – more quantity (now must meet the European CE marking rules)
• Medium and Large Dressings – fewer quantities
• Triangular Bandages – fewer quantities
• Finger Dressings
• Burns Gel Dressing – modern burns gel with a conforming bandage to attach and retain it
• Adhesive Tape in addition to Safety Pins allowing a choice of application
• Shears – for cutting clothing around wound sites to allow first aid treatment.
• Foil Emergency Blanket – clinical shock presents a serious life threatening risk to a casualty, Foil blankets keep the casualty dry and warm
• Mouth to Mouth Resuscitation Device to protects the first aider from cross infection
• First Aid Guidance Leaflet – with latest HSE guidance

Note that eye wash is not on the list although it is recommended in Travel First Aid Kits for employees on the move and separate eye wash stations should be provided in high risk workplace areas.

The BS 8599 Standard does differentiate between low risk environments including offices, retail, libraries etc. and high risk such as construction, engineering and process plants. By example in an office a small size first aid kit to BS 8599 is ok for up to 25 employees but you need a large size kit for every 25 employees in a high risk workplace.

Specialist workplace environments require more specialist First Aid provision and we will continue to supply “blue plaster” Catering First Aid Kits and PSV first aid kits conforming to the new standard.