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Do I need to have a first aid kit in the office?
It is legally required in the UK that all places of business have some sort of first aid cover. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought in a set of regulations back in October 2009 which meant that even offices with less than 5 employees needed a trained first aider and a first aid kit.
You should also remember that there needs to be a first aider available when ever people are at work so if you have an office that covers two or more shifts you are legally obliged to have at least one first aider for each shift.
The regulations do not lay out a specific list of the required content of a first aid kit you can base the contents around the fact that office environments do not usually cause serious accidents, so the content can reflect this and only hold what is most likely to be needed.
Office injuries are usually minor, including paper cuts, steam burns from the microwave or kettle, possibly an occasional scalding from the office kettle or coffee pot, maybe even splinters from desks etc and possibly the odd trip caused by loose cables or items on the floor.
The sort of items that will be needed most often are items such as plasters, a triangular bandage, a selection of other bandages to support sprains, some sterile water or fluid to wash out grazes and cuts, some cotton wall, antiseptic wipes, possibly some burn cream and some personal grooming instruments such as tweezers and sissors.
You may also want to include some latex-free gloves in the kit so that the first aider can handle cuts safely. A good idea is a guidance leaflet or guide to first aid booklet that covers the basics as well.
However, do not be tempted to put items such as aspirin or other pain killers in a first aid kit, the only people that should give these kinds of tablets are the people that need to take them - due to the risk of allergies they should not be provided by the workplace. This also applies to indigestion tablets, throat lozenges and any other kind of "over the counter" medicines.
The amount of items in the kit obviously depend on the number of employees in your office, a small office will need a smaller kit than a larger office (and if you are in a very large office you may even want to keep one or more kits on each floor or in each department), You can make up the kit yourself but it is often much simpler to buy a kit direct from a specialist supplier, in this way you know that the contents have been matched to the legal requirements, and also that they match what you are likely to need in your office.
Don't forget that you need to check the contents on a regular basis, some items will have a "use by" date and it is easy for things like plasters to be used and not replaced (or items like tweezers to be used and put down somewhere and then lost).
Hopefully you will never need to use the first aid kit in your office but, apart from the legal requirement, it is a good feeling to know that you have one should you need it (and it shows the staff that you both care and are up to date with the latest employment laws).
Your first aiders will need to undergo regular “refresher” courses to ensure that they are up to date with the latest first aid practices as these do change from time to time, these should be conducted by a specialised and qualified health and safety instructor and all your health and safety practices should be reviewed regularly to make sure they remain “fit for purpose” again, ideally by a qualified health and safety specialist.
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