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Workplace First Aid Kits: What are The UK Legal Requirements?

Workplace First Aid Kits: What are The UK Legal Requirements?

first aid construction worker with clipboard

All workplaces in the UK are legally obliged to provide the correct and sufficient first aid equipment and appoint trained personnel to protect their employees in the event of an accident or emergency while on site. First aid kits are essential items in all workplaces so that if someone is injured or falls ill at work, they can be given assistance immediately. First aid kits should be made available to all staff to maximise safety and prevent minor injuries from becoming serious ones, including fatalities.


This article will cover the importance of first aid kits in the workplace, what kinds of first aid kits could best suit your business’s needs, and the legal minimum requirements for first aid kits in the workplace.

first aid incident at workplace

Why is a Workplace First Aid Kit Important?

Accident and injury can happen at any time, and in any workplace, even if the risk appears to be very low. UK law that requires the provision of workplace first aid kits is applicable to all workplaces, including those with fewer than five employees, and to the self-employed. Some smaller businesses, companies, and establishments may not be aware of the requirements and take this matter as seriously as they should. 


Some employers don’t know the minimum requirements for first aid kits in the workplace. Employers’ health and safety regulations stipulated by the HSE are there to ensure that all employees are kept safe in line with the risks and hazards unique to their place of work.


First aid requirements and health and safety laws are also there to protect business owners and employers from legal action where their measures are deemed insufficient or not enforced properly, especially in an accident or safety incident.


By providing a workplace first aid kit, employers are working towards mitigating the risk of serious injury in the event of an emergency. A well-stocked first aid kit can enable workers, members of the public, and qualified first aiders to provide essential first aid care and medical treatment to victims of a wide variety of injuries that could occur in any workplace. First aid equipment is usually the first thing available in an emergency while waiting for the emergency services to arrive. If your workplace first aid kit isn’t sufficient and easily available at a critical time, more serious injury or fatality could be a consequence.

Depending on the size of the worksite and the workforce, different requirements need to be met. Employers and business owners will also need to factor in the potential risks and hazards relevant to their workplace. For example, a restaurant or catering business will have a higher likelihood of cuts or burns due to the nature of the work. In this instance, providing a specially designed catering first aid kit and a burn kit would reduce the risk of a serious injury where the likelihood of suffering wounds or burns is more prevalent. Factories or laboratories where eye injuries pose a higher risk are advised to provide eyecare kits for their workforce to reduce the risk of serious injury in a short time frame. Additionally, where larger workforces are in one place, employers can improve their first aid provision with a first aid kit station which offers more visible first aid guidance alongside an HSE compliant first aid kit


A rigorous and thorough assessment of first aid requirements for all workplaces is essential to the safety of staff and the wider public. Professionals and government bodies cannot understate the importance of first aid kits in the workplace in line with their size, hazard risk, and the number of personnel on-site at any given time. A risk assessment and first aid provision shouldn’t just be completed and enforced to comply with British law but should be managed consistently to create a safe working environment and reduce the risk of injury and illness to your workforce.

Our First Aider Alert sheet offers helpful information on the importance of first aid kits in the workplace, the reasons why first aid provision is essential and time-critical and can help your employees understand the importance of first aid in the workplace. 


Steroplast has developed a helpful risk assessment worksheet to help you assess the potential hazards in your workplace, and determine your unique workplace first aid kit requirements. Many factors will determine the required size, type and number of first aid kits your workplace might need. You can also check out our blog for more information on workplace injuries and how to make sure you’re prepared.

burns kit, eyewash kit and first aid kit in cases attached to a wall

As a business owner or manager, you might be wondering—are first aid kits required in the workplace? While you should now be aware of the importance of first aid provisions in all professional and public settings, understanding your legal responsibilities is critical to ensuring you are operating in line with the law and ensuring your employees are safe at work.

Are First Aid Kits Mandatory In The Workplace?

The UK government body, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), provides guidance on employers’ legal first aid responsibilities. This legal guidance states that: 


“Every employer should provide for each work site at least one first-aid container supplied with a sufficient quantity of first-aid materials suitable for the particular circumstances.”


The contents of the required first aid container will vary depending on the risks and hazards highlighted in employers’ mandatory workplace risk assessment. HSE guidance acknowledges that There is no mandatory list of items to be included in a first-aid container, but offers the following contents list as a guide for your minimum workplace first aid kit requirements:


  • A leaflet giving general guidance on first aid (for example, HSE’s leaflet basic advice on first aid at work).
  • Twenty 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.

The HSE adds that: 

“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.”

All employers should be vigilant in ensuring first aid kits in the workplace are sufficient to meet the minimum standard dictated by their individual workplace’s risk assessment. The minimum level of quality advised by the highest authority organisation on the matter (the  British Standard Institute) is detailed below. Our BS 8599-1:2019 compliant first aid kit contains everything you need to make sure you’re prepared in the workplace.

Contents

Small

Medium

Large

F/A guidance leaflet

1

1

1

Medium sterile dressing2

4

6

Large sterile dressing

2

3

4

Triangular dressing

2

3

4

Eye dressing

2

3

4

Adhesive dressings

40

60

100

Sterile wet wipe

20

30

40

Microporous tape

1

2

3

Nitrile gloves - pair

6

9

12

Face shield

1

2

3

Foil blanket

1

2

3

Burn dressing 10 x 10cm

1

2

2

Clothing shears

1

1

1

Conforming bandage

1

2

2

Finger dressing

2

3

4

Sterile eyewash 250ml

0

0

0

Note: The size of the first aid kit required is a combination of the level of risk and the number of employees in the workplace.

Our British Standards compliant workplace first aid kit has been developed to meet most workplaces’ first aid needs, although our 40 piece first aid kit and larger 70 piece first aid kit offer an even more comprehensive selection of first aid equipment that could prove vital in an emergency. 


Steroplast also offers individual first aid products to ensure your first aid supplies are stocked up and in-date. This could prove critical as the HSE stipulates employers’ legal responsibility that:


“The contents of first-aid containers should be examined frequently and restocked soon after use. Sufficient supplies should be held in stock on site. Care should be taken to dispose of items safely once they reach their expiry date.”


UK law also expects business owners or employers on large sites with higher numbers of staff, or where there is an increased risk of injury, to supply their workplaces with more than one first aid kit: 


“Depending on the findings of the first-aid needs assessment, more than one first- aid container might be required on large sites. First-aid containers should be easily accessible and preferably placed near to hand-washing facilities”

Workplace hazard first aid table
Yellow taxi on busy road

Lone Worker First Aid Requirements

If you run a business that employs staff who don’t work in a designated or fixed workplace, you are legally required to consider and accommodate the first aid needs of your lone worker employees. Examples of lone workers include petrol station attendees, taxi drivers, construction workers, cleaners, postal staff, agricultural labourers, and delivery drivers. Supplying such employees with the correct first aid kit in line with the risk of their job role may be a legal requirement depending on your risk assessment. Providing your staff with a lone worker first aid kit, a vehicle first aid kit, or a taxi and public service vehicle first aid kit could be essential. You can read our blog article on the importance of lone worker first aid kits for more information.

Other Workplace First Aid Kits You Might Need

Every workplace is different, so many employers need to take additional measures to prevent serious injury and accidents at work. Steroplast offers a comprehensive selection of first aid kits to suit your unique needs if your workplace risk assessment has highlighted increased risk specific injuries. 


In catering settings, a considerable number of injuries could occur, our chef first aid kit is a practical way to make sure you’re prepared, and we cover all essential kitchen first aid kit contents in our blog. A burn kit could prove vital alongside a standard first aid kit in kitchens and other workplaces where burns are likely. We cover burn kit contents and how to use a burns kit in our blog.

In work settings where chemicals are present, eye wash kits are an essential first aid provision to keep your employees safe. 


If you work in the sports or athletics industry, supplying your staff with a sports first aid kit or medical kit bag will equip you to take care of your athletes easily. 


In school or childcare settings, supplying a childcare first aid kit with contents specially selected for use on minors is a practical way to protect your staff and younger people in your workplace. Check out our blog for more information on the essential contents of a childcare first aid kit.


In the veterinary and pet care business, providing your employees with a specially designed animal first aid kit would ensure any animal-related emergencies can be taken care of with the right equipment, hopefully reducing the need for a trip to the vet.

Please enter your details into the form below along with any questions or comments and a member of our team will be happy to provide you with more information:

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