Anyone can suffer injuries or be taken ill at any time, which is why workplace first aid is so important. It may be an employee, a customer, a visitor or simply someone passing by; it is important to give them immediate attention and to call an ambulance if required.
The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 require you to provide adequate and appropriate first aid equipment, facilities and trained individuals. Being prepared can save lives and prevent minor injuries from becoming a major issue.
Of course, what you need depends on the circumstances of the workplace. There is a range of first aid equipment which you should have, and although you’ll hopefully never need to use it, it may come in useful one day.
Plus you need to have an appointed person to look after your first aid needs and consider having staff who are trained as first aiders, even in a small, low-hazard business. However, what you specifically need can only be identified by a first aid needs assessment.
While you will need to have a first aid kit, these come in different sizes.
The First Aid Kit
There is a large selection of different first aid kits on the market to suit your needs. There are travel kits to fit in your glovebox or suitcase, commercial vehicle kits for lorries and buses, and first aid kits for the home.
In commercial premises, there are small, medium and large first aid kits, which vary in size for workplaces of all sizes. Plus, for food preparation areas, the catering first aid kit includes blue plasters which are easily detectable.
The kits need to be kept well-stocked. Generally, these will include a range of plasters, bandages, dressings, eye pads, safety pins, disposable gloves and a guidance leaflet.
It needs to be kept in a place where everyone can easily find it, and not hidden away in a cupboard somewhere. This might be in a communal area and kept in plain sight.
In fact, it’s often a good idea to include some kind of booklet which makes it easy for people to administer the correct care and seek medical assistance when required.
You’ll also need to have an accident book which is filled out whenever someone has an accident which requires first aid. This is so you have a record of these to help prevent them from occurring in the future and is required to comply with regulations. Plus, they need to have perforated pages so records can be removed and kept separate to comply with data protection laws whilst preventing people from having a nosey.
Eye Wash Kits
There is the potential for anyone to get anything in their eye at any workplace, but of course, there are going to be workplaces where this is more likely and more dangerous. If you’re handling chemicals and find some gets in your eye, or working in a manufacturing environment where debris and chippings are flying around, then it is essential to wash your eye out immediately.
Safety glasses are good for prevention, but accidents happen, and in extreme cases can cause temporary or permanent vision damage. Eyewash stations and kits also need to be in an easy-to-find location and include eyewash solutions. Again, this needs to be kept well stocked, and you must ensure everything is within date.
Burns Care Kit
If you assess that there is potential for burns to the skin, then you also need to have first aid items for treating burns. These could be from work processes or just someone being careless in the staff kitchen.
Again, the risk may mean you simply need to add some burns dressings to your existing first aid kit, or partner it with a burns kit to prepare for larger or frequent burns. Quick and appropriate action prevents further damage to the skin whilst providing relief.
Body Fluid Disposal
If you’re eating, then you may want to skip this part.
Not a requirement in many workplaces, biohazard clean-up kits and disposal bins are often found in medical premises, as well as places such as schools and other public buildings.
A cleanup kit ensures that bodily fluid, such as vomit, urine, faeces, blood, and more, are disposed of safely with the area thoroughly disinfected to prevent contamination and infection.
With disposal bins and bags, you can keep hazardous items, such as used needles and syringes, separate from your other rubbish so they can be disposed of appropriately.
However, what you require depends massively on the type of workplace. A small office environment will need a basic first aid kit, while a school or college is likely to need most of these items to comply with Health and Safety regulations. And to ensure you’re completely compliant and prepared, a risk assessment is the best course of action.