Workplace First Aid Kits


Did you know that compliance with Health Safety, requires you to have a standard first aid kit, which changed in 2011, and should be compliant under standard “BS-8599-1:2011”. Check your first aid kits, and make sure you have the right one in your workplace.

Why the changes?

The BS 8599-1 standard (published in June 2011) recommends the correct number of particular components for small, medium, large or travel-size kits and also recommends how many kits are needed depending on the size of the organisation. It sets the minimum level that first aid kits should conform to and should be followed by manufacturers of first aid kits and anyone who assembles first aid kits in the workplace. The new BS 8599-1 standard takes into account more modern and functional products encompassing a wider range of common workplace risks. Some changes include:

  • increased number of disposable gloves (ideally non-latex to eliminate possible latex allergies);
  • fewer triangular bandages as they are no longer used for the immobilisation of limb injuries;
  • introduction of smaller absorbent wound dressings for finger injuries, where a plaster will not be sufficient;
  • introduction of tearable non-woven, hypoallergenic adhesive tape to secure bandages without using safety pins;
  • introduction of water-based sterile gel burn dressings (which do not require any pre-cooling with water) and a conforming bandage to secure it;
  • introduction of a resuscitation face shield to provide a protective barrier for first aiders administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

The BS 8599-1 standard gives recommendations on the amount and size of the first aid kits necessary for different workplace environments based on the category of risk (low risk: e.g. shops, offices; medium risk: e.g. warehousing, light engineering work; high risk: e.g. construction, work with chemicals) and the number of employees. Requirements are set concerning marking and information to be supplied by manufacturers.

Requirements are also given for the container holding the components. The container should be able to fit all of the relevant components inside and close securely, and should be clean, dustproof and provide protection for the contents in a workplace environment.

Workplace first aid kits can be complemented by other items that have been identified during a risk assessment, if necessary. Where there are unusual hazards that are specific to a particular workplace environment, workplace first aid kits should be supplemented with additional, appropriate components.


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