What Should Your First Aid Box Contain?
I often get asked questions like “What should we have in our first aid kit?” or “Do you think we should have this in our office first aid kit?”
I have put together this blog with a list of ten items all workplace first aid kits should contain.
Some higher risk work places will require specialist kits and equipment, your organisation’s history of recorded incidents (accident book) and current risk assessments will help to decide if you need extra equipment or not.
1. Nitrile Protective Gloves
These are the most important pieces of equipment located in your kit. Protecting yourself from contamination from bodily fluids, like blood and vomit is extremely important when giving first aid. A set of disposable nitrile gloves is a great barrier between you and the patient. They also ensure the patient’s wound is kept as sterile as possible. I recommend a non-latex material like Nitrile to ensure you don’t aggravate a patient with a latex allergy. All British standard first aid kits come with at least one pair of sterile gloves. Make sure you check the gloves you are putting on for stretch marks or tears before you put them to work.
2. A General First Aid Guidance Leaflet
It is important to remember that someone grabbing the first aid kit when it’s needed may not have any formal first aid training. All British standard first aid kits come with a general first aid guidance leaflet. These normally cover basic instructions for a selected number of first aid situations. CPR in the event of a cardiac arrest is usually covered, along with advice for unconscious and breathing casualties and how to deal with a bleed. It is always advisable to have members of staff trained in a workplace first aid course such as Emergency First Aid at Work however in the event that no one trained is available, these leaflets can be a great help.
3. Resuscitation Mask
Should the worst happen and somebody went into cardiac arrest, a one-use resuscitation mask is a necessary piece of personal protective equipment to work alongside disposable nitrile gloves. These can come in many different forms, the most common in a first aid kit will be a plastic sheet with a one-way plastic valve that is laid across the patient’s face with the valve covering the patient’s mouth. They will protect the rescuer from any contamination from body fluids on the patient’s face or in their mouth. These can also be carried in a small keyring pouch along with the gloves. We always provide one of these personal protective kits to all delegates on our first aid courses.
4. Large, Medium And Small Dressings
Dressings can be used to support injured joints, hold smaller dressings in place or put pressure on a wound to stem the bleeding and help reduce swelling. It is important to have different sizes to ensure you can treat wounds in different locations, on different body parts or on different sized people. You can also use them to secure ice packs in place for strains and sprains. They come in different sizes, shapes and lengths. Make sure you choose the right dressing for the job depending on what type of injury you are dealing with.
5. Triangular bandage
Triangular bandages are one of the most longstanding versatile pieces of equipment in a first aid kit. They have many uses such as making an elevation sling to hold a cut arm in an upright position (pictured above) or a support sling for a broken or dislocated limb. They can be rolled up and wrapped around the body to help immobilise an already supported dislocated joint. Also they can be rolled and used to treat head injuries, cover an eye injury or used to attach a splint to a broken limb. These are a must in any workplace first aid kit.
6. Sterile Wipes
Sterile wipes are great for cleaning the skin in and around the area you are about to apply a dressing, they are also good for cleaning wounds (make sure you’re wearing gloves!) so they can be inspected and treated properly. They will usually come in an individual sachet containing one wipe. They are inexpensive and can be bought in bulk to ensure your kit is always fully stocked.
7. Burn Dressing
Most good quality BS standard first aid kits now include a burn dressing. These are made up of a dressing pad, soaked in purified water and other pain relief gels. They come individually wrapped in a sealed package of burn relief gel. They can be applied to burns on the body including the face, they are also safe for use on children (always check the manufacturer’s packaging to check this is the case before use). They can be secured to the area of the burn using an appropriate sized dressing from your first aid kit. These are a really handy addition to any first aid kit and help to protect a burn from infection, soothe, provide pain relief and promote recovery. Dedicated burns kits are available for workplaces with a higher risk of burns.
8. Tuffcut Scissors
An often overlooked essential item in all first aid kits is a set of Tuffcut scissors. They are as their name suggests a tough piece of kit and will cut through clothing, belts and underwires with ease. Depending on the severity of an injury it may be necessary to cut away items of clothing to be able to treat the patient’s wound properly. If someone has a broken or dislocated joint, then clothing may need to be cut away so it can be supported correctly. If a patient goes in to cardiac arrest then clothing and other items covering the chest must be cut away or removed to ensure defibrillator pads can be properly fitted.
An assortment of different sized plasters are always needed in a first aid kit. They are useful for protecting and promoting the recovery of small guts and grazes. Ensure that a wound has been properly cleaned and then cover with the correct sized plaster, making sure the whole wound is covered with the pad, not the sticky part of the plaster. You can also buy catering plasters in blue.
10. A Fit For Purpose Container For The First Aid Kit
Many first aid kits are put in an open-top box, contents loose in a cupboard or in a bag that’s not fit for purpose. Make sure your kit is stored in an appropriate waterproof, dust-proof container that is clearly visible as a first aid kit. If you buy a pre packed kit to BS standard then this will already come in an appropriate container, often with a wall mountable hook included to ensure your kit is accessible and visible to anyone who may need it.
Where Should Your First Aid Box Be Kept?
If you are going to store the kit in a cupboard then a sticker or sign on the door must show that the kit is located inside and the cupboard must be unlocked so people can access it when required.
The above list contains 10 items that should be included in a workplace first aid kit and certainly isn’t a full definitive list. A key consideration is to make sure you appoint someone in you’re workplace to carry out regular checks on all the first aid kits. Ensure they are fully stocked, along with a ready supply of items to replace anything that is used. It can be useful to set up a policy whereby staff must email the person responsible for checking the first aid kits each time an item is used, so they can keep check on what equipment may be running low.
It is always advisable to seek first aid training for staff or volunteers in your business, company or organisation. We offer many different types of first aid training courses for businesses, organisations and private groups, giving employers the peace of mind that should a first aid emergency occur, or anyone becomes ill or injured while at work they will receive quality care until the arrival of Emergency Services. Don’t delay, look at the range of courses we have to offer and contact us today for your free no obligation quote for us to come to you and train your staff.