Workplace first aid kit requirements?
Saturday, 03 January 2015 00:00

firstaidBHTA (British Healthcare Trust Association) and British Standard for Workplace First Aid Kits (BS8599, published in June 2011) has announced a new standard of workplace first aid kits. The British Standard states:

"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 the first aid box are 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 of which the contents complies with BS8599 and matches your needs accessment; or
  2. Within your workplace you have access to a first aid kit of which the contents matches your needs assessment but does not comply with the requirements of BS8599."


 First Aid Kits that were introduced in 1997 were based on BHTA guidelines of four kits named 10, 20, 50 and a travel kit. These are now seen as outdated and possibly inadequate due to changes in first aid protocol. The BHTA guidelines were withdrawn on 31/12/2011. Issues with the previous kits included vast amounts of dressings, only one pair of gloves, several triangular bandages, no hygiene mask, and no burns gel dressings.

ecavell1 ecavell2
Edith Cavell - British nurse and patriot during World War I who
saved the lives of soldiers from all sides without distinction.

What's Required?

The new kits aim to provide a more modern inventory for the workplace. Following the adoption of the new standard there will continue to be four kits; now called Small, Medium, Large and Travel; so that the standard is adaptable depending on the size of the workplace.

In order for employers to select the correct first aid kit for their particular needs, a risk assessment is crucial to determine the hazard levels and number of employees exposed. Individual workplaces should be assessed so that the first aid kit has specific items depending on the nature of the work.

The BSi has outlined a guide to help employers select the most suitable kit for their requirements:

  • In a Low Hazard Workplace (e.g. shops, offices etc.) Less than 25 employees should have a small size kit, 25-100 employees a medium kit, whilst employers with 100+ employees should have one large kit per 100 employees.
  • In a High Hazard Workplace (e.g. extensive work with machinery, food processing, warehousing etc.) Less than 5 employees should have a small kit, 5-25 employees a medium kit and employers with 25+ employees should have one large kit per 25 employees.

With the introduction of the new standard the following changes to the kits have been made:

  • firstaidopenAn increased quantity of gloves in order to meet the demand which will be Nitrile type in accordance with the NHS and St. John Ambulance guidelines.
  • A more appropriate number of plasters available.
  • A higher quantity of wipes available which must be sterile in order to meet the European CE marking rules.
  • A reduced number of medium and large dressings.
  • Fewer triangular bandages in line with first aid protocol which no longer suggest their need for immobilizing limbs.
  • Introduction of a smaller finger dressing which is more suitable for small injuries than the current plasters and dressings.
  • Burns gel dressing has been introduced as the majority of workplaces will have a risk of burns from something as simple as a kettle. The dressing will also include a conforming bandage to secure it.
  • Where safety pins once were used, adhesive tape is now being introduced in order to secure dressings. Safety pins will still be available so that first aiders can choose depending on their preference.
  • The introduction of a foil emergency blanket allowing a casualty to keep warm in order to reduce the potentially fatal effects of clinical shock.
  • A mouth to mouth resuscitation device will be included in the new kits, comprimising a one way valve, in order to protect first aiders from infection.
  • Travel kits will now incorporate eyewash as it is unlikely that fixed eye wash stations will be available.
  • A new first aid guidance leaflet will be included in the kits detailing the latest HSE guidelines.

Absolute Health and Safety Solutions Ltd strive to provide practical advice to all our clients and believe in sharing free information. For more information on similar subjects please contact one of our consultants on 0845 864 6934 or visit our website at

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