First Aid Kits for Work – Guide to Contents & Law

The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 is the act that covers first aid equipment in the workplace. Under these regulations, employers are required to supply appropriate and adequate first aid kits for work.

Two plasters in the shape of the first aid cross symbol

The purpose of this equipment is to give employees the initial resources they need following a Workplace Injury or sudden illness. Our guide looks at what needs to be in your workplace first aid kit to make sure you’re compliant with UK health & safety law.


What Should be in a First Aid Kit at Work?

Health and safety guidance states that first aid kits at work should contain “appropriate and adequate” equipment for the work environment.

The phrase ‘appropriate and adequate’ makes it clear that the contents of first aid kits for work will of course vary from one workplace and industry to another. Employers must take account of certain factors. The starting point is to consult the workplace risk assessment. Using the assessment, an employer can establish the risks. He or she then has to decide on the appropriate first-aid equipment.


Kits in Low Risk Work Environments

Even in a workplace with apparently few risks of accident requiring treatment, an employer must still supply a basic first aid kit.

There must also be a person responsible for checking the kit’s contents and replacing any that are missing or beyond their use-by dates.


Kits in High Risk Environments

In a high-risk environment, the kit’s contents must match the hazards. If there’s a possibility of burns, for instance, the kit must contain appropriate dressings.

Where there’s a high risk of an accident, an employer should also consider arranging for trained first-aiders and a first-aid room.


Using The Accident Book To Create First Aid Kids

Another useful way of establishing what first aid kits for work should contain is to look through the workplace accident book. Such a book has a record of injuries and poor health. It acts as a useful guide to the type of kit that a workplace needs.

Where there is any doubt concerning the kit’s contents, particularly specialist items, an employer should speak to a professional. A local health centre, hospital or St John Ambulance unit may be able to help.


First Aid Kits for Off-Site Workers

Some employees travel frequently or work remotely. Those employers with such off-site workers should think about issuing personal first-aid kits. These kits should be compact and portable, and have basic first-aid items. The contents must reflect, however, the specialist nature of any work and the likely hazards. They should, in other words, be “appropriate and adequate”.


What Should be in a First Aid Kit at Work?

The law does not insist on certain items being in a First-aid Kit. The contents depend on the needs of employees.

In a low-risk work environment such as an office or shop, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends the following:

What should a basic first aid kit contain?

  • Six safety pins
  • Six individual wound dressings – these should be sterile and medium-sized
  • Two large individual and sterile wound dressings
  • Disposable gloves
  • Four sterile triangular bandages
  • 20 individual plasters – these should be in a range of sizes
  • Two eye pads
  • A leaflet about basic first aid

The first aid kit should not have medicines and tablets. Some people may have a bad reaction to even the simplest of over-the-counter pills.

Paediatric first aid kit contents can differ, see our guide on paediatric first aid training and kits for more!


For More Information…

For government advice about what you might need, you can find a range of leaflets at the health and safety executive website

Chemists sell basic first aid kits. And if you ask, staff at a good pharmacy will help create a kit that addresses the specific needs of a workplace. Online, there are specialist retailers that stock first-aid kits. They also supply appropriate cupboards and bags.

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