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First Aid legislation updates coming your way soon

The next year is going to be an interesting one in terms of changes to first aid, with several major changes coming over the next 12 months.

In this blog post we are specifically looking at the changes to workplace first aid kit requirements.


What has changed?

We now have the new British Standard BS 8599-1:2019, which came into effect on 31st January 2019 & relates to the specification of first aid kits for use in the workplace. The existing British Standard (BS 8599-1:2011) won’t be withdrawn until 31st December 2019, as they’ve allowed an overlap period for manufacturers & vendors of first aid kits sufficient time to refresh their stocks of 2011 compliant kits.

The first thing that you’ll notice about the new Standard is that they’ve amended the recommended quantities of some of the contents.

The main changes are as follows:

  • Small workplace first aid kit: 2 medium 12 x 12cm dressings (decreased from 4), 2 large 18 x 18cm dressings (increased from 1), and safety pins are no longer required, as they are replaced with microporous tape.
  • Medium workplace first aid kit: 4 medium 12 x 12cm dressings (decreased from 6), 3 large 18 x 18cm dressings (increased from 2), 2 rolls of microporous tape (increased from 1), and safety pins are no longer required.
  • Large workplace first aid kit: 6 medium 12 x 12cm dressings (decreased from 8), 4 large 18 x 18cm dressings (increased from 2), 3 rolls of microporous tape (increased from 1), and safety pins are no longer required.


The number of first aid kits and its content you need should be risk assessed, as a guide:


For low hazard workplaces (e.g. offices environments) we would suggest:

  • Fewer than 25 employees: 1 small workplace first aid kit.
  • From 25-100 employees: 1 medium workplace first aid kit.
  • Over 100 employees: 1 large workplace first aid kit per 100 employees.


For higher hazard work environments (factory environments, construction sites, etc.) you should consider the requirement to be slightly more stringent:

  • Fewer than five employees: 1 small first workplace first aid kit
  • From 5-25 employees: 1 medium workplace first aid kit
  • More than 25 employees: 1 large kit per 25 employees


Note: we would always want you to consider, what is the type and severity of the injury likely to happen, and that is the first aid contents you should be looking at when you open your first aid kit.

The employer is responsible for providing suitable work equipment and training staff to use it, again numbers of kits and numbers of first aiders for the workplace.

A good idea is that the equipment remains fit for purpose and should be checked weekly for re-supply.


You should be aware that there are three new first aid kits now available:


  • The ‘travel and motoring first aid kit’. It’s a good idea to provide these for company car/vehicle drivers, they are designed to be transportable and used when employees are working away from the main workplace.
  • The ‘personal issue first aid kit’ aimed specifically at lone workers.
  • And the ‘critical injury first aid kit’ where employees will be engaged in work with dangerous machinery, cutting equipment, power tools, construction, agriculture, etc.


Do I need to be worried?

In simple terms, if you were to go out and buy a first aid kit today, you’ll probably receive one that is compliant with BS8599:1-2011 That’s ok, but it maybe worth asking if the new kit is compliant with the new Standard.

It is important to remember that the standard is simply a recommendation and not law – you need to undertake a needs assessment to determine exactly what you require for your workplace. As such, a 2011 compliant kit will probably be suitable for your needs in 2019 or beyond because you will have determined exactly what it is that you need in your need’s assessment.

Should you need any help with regards to first aid at work assessments we will only be too glad to assist you.  Richard Wadkin CMIOSH IMaPs

By Richard Wadkin CMIOSH Risk Consultant

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