We’re often ask what should be included in a workplace first aid kit. There’s no mandatory list for the contents of a first aid box and the decision should really take into account the findings of your first aid needs assessment. As a rough guide though, where the work activity is deemed to be low hazard, common items include:
- Elastoplasts/sterile plasters – various sizes.
Buy decent ones that actually stick and use the blue ones if you work with food. Uses include: small cuts, burst spots and anything small that needs covering.
- Wound dressings/bandages – medium and large.
For larger cuts.
- Crepe bandage.
Particularly useful for sprained ankles at the office Christmas Disco.
- Triangular bandages.
For elevating arms.
- 2 sterile eye patches.
Keep them sterile and use for eye injuries. Don’t hand them out on national ‘talk like a pirate’ day.
- Antiseptic wipes
- A pair of disposable gloves
- Safety pins
- Eye wash.
If there’s tap water to hand, that can be used, otherwise it’s a good idea to keep eye wash available (at least a litre of sterile water or normal saline (0.9%) in sealed, disposable containers).
- A guidance leaflet on first aid (such as the leaflet Basic Advice on First Aid at Work, available from the HSE on-line store)
- A container to keep the contents clean and dry. It’s also important that this can be clearly identify it as a first aid kit.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard is that first aid kits should be green with a white cross, to make them easily recognised.
Someone should be delegated to check the contents of the first aid kits on a regular basis, including expiry dates and re-stock any items which need replacing as soon as is practical. Out of date items should be disposed of safely, or pass them to your first aid training provider for use in training other first aiders.
For more hazardous environments, you should think through your particular risks and provide extra items in your kit as appropriate, for example:
- If you work with machinery you might want to include more in the way of large dressings
- If your environment includes hot areas you could include burn gel dressings
- For outdoor work, consider a foil blanket to help deal with exposure
This is by no means an exhaustive list but we hope it helps you make a decision on what to include in your own workplace first aid kit.