Workplace First Aid Kit Standards

What should be in a workplace first aid kit?

There is no mandatory list of contents for first-aid boxes and HSE does not 'approve' or endorse particular products. Deciding what to include should be based on an employer's assessment of first-aid needs. Following the guidelines on the 2011 British Standard (BSI) for first aid kits would be a good start. BSI enhanced first aid kits are based on the HSE first aid kits but with added extras. There are more pairs of gloves, small dressings and plasters. Other useful items such as eyewash, burn dressings, foil blankets, face shields and clothing cutters have been added.

British Standard (BSI) First Aid Kits

In 2011 NEW British Standards were issued for the provision of First Aid within the workplace - BS 8599-1:2011.

BSI enhanced first aid kits are based on the old HSE first aid kits but with added extras.  The Health and Safety Executive have been closely involved in the creation of this standard, being members of the BSi standards committee. The current guidelines contained in document L74 from the HSE are met and exceeded by the new BSi standard.

You must make sure that your workplace first aid kits conform to the standard BS-8599-1:2011. These kits come in fours sizes: Travel, Small, Medium and Large.

Before 2011, 10, 20 and 50 person BHTA-HSE kits we commonly available which were based on the BHTA (British Healthcare Trade Association) standard published in 1997.

The 1997 BHTA standard was in need of a review:

  • There were only one pair of gloves in a 10 person kit but huge numbers of dressings. 
  • There were 4 triangular bandages but common training protocols no longer indicate their use for immobilisation of lower limb fractures.
  • Burns gel dressings weren't available in the kits even though they are used significantly in first aid and are now much more affordable.
  • It was commonly suggested that the old kits didn't have enough plasters and wipes.

The BHTA withdraw the 1997 standard with effect from 31 December 2011.

What does the law say?

The Health and Safety (First Aid) regulations 1981 states:-

“An employer shall provide or ensure that there are provided such equipment and facilities as are adequate and appropriate in the circumstances for enabling first aid to be rendered to his employees if the are injured or become ill at work”

The new BSi first aid kits are now the only safe and clear way for an employer
to meet their obligations. By continuing to use the 1997 guidelines, organisations would fail to be in compliance with these regulations.