Too many first aid kits in UK workplaces are missing essential equipment, which is putting employees at risk and means employers are breaking the law, according to workplace equipment provider Slingsby.
Under The Health and Safety Offences Act all workplaces must have a first aid kit that is suitably stocked as well as an appointed person to implement a first aid procedure that all employees are aware of. Usually notices explaining where the first aid box is kept and details of relevant people should also be displayed in a prominent position.
Lee Wright, marketing director of Slingsby, said: “We’re constantly answering questions from employers about first aid kits and being asked about their contents. Most first aid kits that we see are either missing essential items or contain the wrong things completely. Employers can face hefty penalties for breaking health and safety laws and usually there is no excuse for it, especially for the sake of a few bandages or a pack of plasters.”
“Although workplaces are legally required to have a dedicated person who is responsible for first aid, the reality is in many organisations the first aid kit is something that everyone forgets about until there’s an accident. This means that in many cases when things are used in first aid kits they are never replaced.”
Wright said: “In all companies and organisations the responsibility of the first aid kit should be an integral part of someone’s job description and it should be checked on a regular basis to ensure it is always fully stocked with suitable items and anything that is used is replaced. This needs to be instigated from a senior level in the same way that most other everyday tasks are, such as ensuring the post is sent every evening or turning the lights off when a building is empty.”
As part of The Health and Safety (first aid) Regulations 1981 employers also have a responsibility to provide appropriate equipment, facilities and training depending on individual risks. This could include training for first aiders that is relevant to a particular hazard or providing different types of equipment for specific areas depending on individual risks.