First Aid in the Workplace – Where to Start?

First Aid in the workplace is important but there can be confusion over what is required and who provides first aid. There is a growing range of first aid at work courses available too. Knowing which course to sign up for depends on many factors, including what kind of workplace it is and the number of employees. We take a look at some of the frequently asked questions about first aid at work requirements.

What kind of first aid requirements need to be in place?

It is a statutory obligation of every employer to take steps to ensure that should someone have an accident at work or be taken ill, there is suitable first aid provision in place. Some people assume that this means someone with a current first aid certificate but this isn’t always the case.

Some workplaces are assessed as being low-risk when it comes to first aid requirements. For example, a small office in which there are few visitors and no public access. In cases such as this, the first aid arrangements would consist of an appointed person who ensures the first aid kit is complete, they are the person who calls for emergency services and so on.

For some workplaces where the risk is deemed as high, there will need to be a different level of first aid arrangements that meet the identified risks.

A ‘first aid needs assessment’ helps an employer to decide what first aid arrangements are appropriate for the workplace.

Is an ‘appointed person’ a trained first aider?

A first aid assessment at work may determine that a first aider is not required. The minimum first aid provision in any workplace is an ‘appointed person’. This is the person who is responsible for looking after the first aid equipment, facilities and calling the emergency services.

This means they don’t have to be first aid trained in some workplace circumstances but most employers feel that a small team of first aid trained employees offers peace of mind in the workplace, low risk or otherwise.

What should be in a workplace first aid kit?

The first aid kit is an important piece of equipment in the workplace and as a guide, a first aid kit in a low hazard, low-risk workplace environment would contain as a minimum;

  • A general first aid certificate
  • Individually wrapped sterile plasters of assorted sizes
  • Sterile eye pads
  • Individually wrapped triangular bandages
  • Safety pins
  • Sterile wound dressings
  • Disposable gloves

However, any first aid kit must reflect the outcomes of the first aid assessment. For example, if it is identified that there is a high risk of lacerations, it makes sense to have a first aid kit packed with all sizes of wound dressings.

There is a British Standard that relates to first aid kits – BS 8599 – and although this isn’t a statutory requirement for workplace first aid kits to meet this standard, it can provide a useful frame for reference to what should be in the kit.

How often should the contents of the first aid at work kit be checked and replaced?

There is no specified timetable of schedule when it comes to checking over the first aid kit but it pays to be vigilant about its use.

  • Check the ‘use by’ dates on packaging and dispose of items passed these dates, always making sure to replace them immediately
  • If there are no dates, judge whether the item looks in a good state and ready for use
  • Ripped or damaged packaging means the item is no longer sterile and should be disposed of

In a busier work environment, the first aid kit should be checked on a weekly basis, if not more often.

We have a range of first aid at work courses, all of which address issues of first aid at work in detail.

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