According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there is a legally defined requirement for employers to provide ‘adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are taken ill or injured at work’. (Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981, amended). This regulation applies to workplaces of all sizes – even one-person organisations. While a first aid kit is not specifically mandated, having one is an easy step towards compliance with the regulation.
In addition to your legal obligations, here’s an overview of some other good reasons to keep a well-stocked first aid kit on site, as well as the core items to keep available.
Many injuries or ailments – allergic reactions, cuts and burns, for example – require immediate attention. Having the correct supplies to hand (and in one easily found kit) can make a huge difference, allowing you to stem the flow of blood or start treating a burn/scald quickly and efficiently.
One of the secondary benefits of training personnel in how to deal with first aid emergencies and making sure at least some of them have a CPR certification is that they will naturally become more aware of their surroundings and the potential risks. This mindfulness can help to reduce injuries and accidents by promoting a health and safety conscious environment.
Organisation and accessibility
Keeping a centralised store of first aid-related supplies makes it extremely easy to find the kit in an emergency and to check that all your supplies are restocked/within expiry dates. The last thing that anybody wants in an emergency situation is to spend time searching for the kit – make sure it is well marked and the location is obvious and always accessible. Keeping your first aid kit in your locked office is of no use if you are off-site or unavailable when an accident occurs.
There are no hard and fixed rules on what your first aid kit should contain, but some core contents that you should keep are:
- Waterproof and standard plasters
- Gauze pads
- Paracetamol/ibuprofen/aspirin (with child-friendly versions as appropriate)
- Adhesive tape
- Purified water
- Cotton wool
- Disposable gloves
- Cooling gel
- Safety pin
Take into account the nature of your business and particular staff requirements. If you have employees with serious allergies that might be triggered at work, or you are in food service where a customer might have an adverse reaction to something – you’ll need to stock antihistamine. Similarly, if there is an increased risk of eye-contamination or injury – through chemicals, sparks or metal/wood filings, for example – you should consider an eye-wash kit and eye bandages/patches.
If your organisation keeps an accident book or other record of health and safety issues, reference this when stocking your first aid kit. Previous issues can often be a reliable indicator of potential future accidents, and being prepared to deal with them if they arise again is in both your and your employees’ best interest.
It is good practice to check your kit regularly to ensure that the contents are available in appropriate levels and that items haven’t gone past their ‘use by’ date. Make sure to also conduct these checks again after any incidents have been resolved.
Author Bio: First Mats started life as safety matting specialists, but have since expanded to become a complete industrial and commercial supplies company. The focus of First Mats is to provide safety-focused products that improve the wellbeing of staff through quality approved products, backed up by extensive knowledge. www.firstmats.co.uk