What should a first-aid box in the workplace contain?
The decision on what to provide will be influenced by the findings of the first-aid needs assessment.
As a guide, where work activities involve low hazards, a minimum stock of first-aid items might be:
- a leaflet giving general guidance on first aid
- 20 individually wrapped sterile plasters (assorted sizes), appropriate to the type
of work (hypoallergenic plasters can be provided if necessary);
- two sterile eye pads;
- two individually wrapped triangular bandages, preferably sterile;
- six safety pins;
- two large sterile individually wrapped unmedicated wound dressings;
- six medium-sized sterile individually wrapped unmedicated wound dressings;
- at least three pairs of disposable gloves
This is only a suggested contents list.
Employers may wish to refer to British Standard BS 8599 which provides further information on the contents of workplace first-aid kits.
Whether using a first-aid kit complying with BS 8599 or an alternative kit, the contents should reflect the outcome of the first-aid needs assessment.
It is recommended that you don’t keep tablets and medicines in the first-aid box.
How often should the contents of first-aid boxes be replaced?
Although there is no specified review timetable, many items, particularly sterile ones, are marked with expiry dates. They should be replaced by the dates given and expired items disposed of safely. In cases where sterile items have no dates, it would be advisable to check with the manufacturers to find out how long they can be kept. For non-sterile items without dates, it is a matter of judgement, based on whether they are fit for purpose.
First aid kits and British Standard 8599
There is a British Standard BS 8599 for first aid kits, it is not a regulatory requirement under the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 to purchase kits that comply with this standard. Instead the contents of a first aid box is dependent on an employers first aid needs assessment.
This means for employers following a needs assessment the options are:
1. Within your workplace you have access to a first aid kit whose contents complies with BS 8599 and matches or exceeds the findings from your needs assessment;
2. Within your workplace you have access to a first aid kit whose contents matches the findings from your needs assessment but does not comply with the requirements of BS 8599.