It’s not only at home; accidents can happen anywhere, even in the workplace. This is why it’s equally important to have first aid kits at the workplace as it is for your home. Most small accidents that occur at the workplace can be dealt with if you have a ready and stocked kit in hand.
In fact, it’s required by law that businesses should have appropriate and necessary first aid supplies for their staff. Employers have to ensure their workplace has first aid equipment that can give immediate help to employees who fall ill or get injured at work. This is why it’s important you know the legal requirements these kits.
These regulations apply to any business, no matter how larger so small your establishment may be. Even if you are self-employed, or if it’s a small organisation with less than five workers, the rules still apply.
Number of required first aid kits
If you wonder how many first aid kits are required in the workplace, it depends on various factors. This includes how many people you have working for you, the workplace layout and equipment and the work risk level, if there’s a high chance of employees getting hurt or injured while working.
It is important that these first aid kits are always stocked and ready to use for immediate first aid. The employer or the person entrusted with the work of maintaining the kits have to periodically check to ensure the kits are full.
Factors affecting the number of required kits
• How many people work for you- Obviously the more employees you have working for you, the higher will be the number of required first aid kits.
•Size and complexity of floors- It’s essential that there be at least one kit on each working floor. In case of larger floors, you may have to place at least one at either end and if the layout is rather complex, have several kits placed strategically across at various locations.
•Work risk level- Offices naturally have a lower risk of accidents and injuries occurring than compared to factories and industries. While one kit is usually enough in each office floor, you’ll need more than one in a small factory or industry floors.
First aid kit size
While first aid kits come in various sizes, you have to choose yours based on your workforce size and the type of work you do.
In the case of low-risk businesses like offices and shops, a small kit is enough if there are less than 25 employees. In case of a business with 25-100 employees, you’ll need a medium size kit and a large size kit is needed per 100 employees if you have more than 100 employees working for you.
In the case of high-risk businesses like engineering, chemical manufacturing or any business where employees work with dangerous machines and sharp instruments every day, a small kit is enough if there are less than five employees. If there are 5-25 employees then you need a medium size kit and if there are more than 25 employees, then you require one big sized kit for about 25 people.
Make certain the things in the kit adhere to the UK Standard BS 8599-1, which proves the equipment is safe for use. Also, make sure each kit has the required number of items to treat the number of people it has to treat.
First aid kit location
While there is no fixed place these kits, some places on the floor are at a higher risk and need more kits or should be closely placed. In general, the kit should be kept someplace where it’s easily seen and accessible, and make sure there’s sign indicating the kit’s presence nearby.
While kits can be placed on a table or inside a cabinet that’s hung on the wall, you may not be able to take everything you need to the injured person.
Don’t forget to keep the nearby activities and equipment in mind while fitting first aid kits. For example, high temperature or work that creates lots of dust or debris may affect the equipment’s integrity.
It may sometimes be better to have a locked cabinet for your first aid supplies because it keeps your supplies safe and secure. You know it’s safe and fully stocked, as supplies can go missing without a cabinet.
Of course, there’s the risk of not being able to quickly open the cabinet in emergencies. But this can be resolved by ensuring the keys are always ready with the first aiders.
First aid kit contents
Once again there’s no fixed list to follow regarding the materials and things to include inside first aid box. It all depends on your business, and what you may require to treat potential injuries which may occur there.
However, most of the kits sold at reputable sources that comply with the UK Standard contain everything you require for immediate workplace first aid.
However, the minimally recommended contents for each first aid kit are:
- Sterile eye pad, eyewash and eye bath
- Scissors and tweezers
- Antiseptic cream
- Hygienically wrapped, assorted sized and shaped waterproof plasters and un-medicated wound dressings
- Safety pins
- Disposable gloves
- Leaflet with general first aid guidance
- List of contents
- Distilled water to clean wounds
- Cream for skin rashes and for bites
- Alcohol-free cleansing wipes
- Adhesive tape
- Disposable gloves
- OTC painkillers like aspirin and paracetamol
Based on the results of your company’s risk examination, you may have to add some additional items to the kit like more of plasters, dressing gauges and antiseptics if there’s a high chance of cuts because of sharp instruments.
Remember that these items have an expiration date. They have to be regularly checked and anything outdated should be discarded and replaced. You can take them to the local chemist for its safe disposal. It’s also important that anything used has to be replaced. So anyone who uses it should inform the responsible person about it so that it’s replaced.
Typical workplace first aid assessments
You will have to conduct a workplace first aid assessment to determine the right items to include in your kit. It includes taking into consideration the number of people working for you, the tasks they perform on an everyday basis and evaluating the potential hazards in your workplace and the measures you have to take to promptly deal with employees and visitors who may meet with an accident.
So you’ll have to determine what you should include in the kit based on whether your employees use power tools, work at heights or outdoors, have to lift heavy things, if they work with dangerous substances and if they have to drive warehouse vehicles or equipment.
In the case of environments related to food production and handling, you also need a BS 8599-1 Catering Compliant Kit on hand at all times.
In the case of workplaces with specific hazards, you need additional equipment on hand like Sharps Kit, Burns First Aid and Bio Hazard kit in addition to the standard first aid supplies.
First aid training
It’s not enough to just have a kit on hand to treat emergencies. You also need to give first aid training to a few employees. They should also be given a valid certificate proving their competence.
It’s better to have more than one trained first aider on hand so that you always have someone at the workplace to attend to emergencies if another aider is absent or on holiday.
Dedicated first aid room
You may even consider having a dedicated first aid room if you have a large company to conveniently treat injured and ill employees. And you don’t have to legally make provisions for non-employees like visitors. It is also advised to consider them while working out workplace first aid assessments.
How first aid affect self-employed people in your workplace
Inc case of self-employed or freelancers, you still need to have first aid equipment at hand wherever you work. There’s always a chance of your falling ill or injured, so you need a kit on hand to treat you.
As usual, you have to assess the risks of your workplace and structure the kit based on it. And don’t forget to ensure the kit is updated and full all the time.
You may even consider getting a personal box inside your car if you are a regular driver or if you have to commute long distances on a regular basis.
Tips to remember
- Remember, first aid kits are only meant to provide immediate care. They may not have the required equipment and materials to deal with life-threatening emergencies. They can help stabilise the patient till the emergency crew arrives.
- Always place the kit somewhere visible and accessible, and highlight its position by placing a sign signifying it nearby.
- Always restock the kit by replacing used and outdated materials.
- Keep your first aiders fully-trained and updated with first aid training
- Buy your first aid kits only from reputable sources that comply with UK Standard BS 8599-1. It ensures the kit contains equipment that’s safe and hygienic to use.
Now that you know how many first aid kits are required in the workplace, what the kits need to contain and where they have to be placed, your workplace will now be a much safer place for your employees. You will be able to treat your staff if they are suffering from minor aches and if they feel uncomfortable, is that they can continue working and performing their duties as usual.
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