Effective from 30th June 2011, with a transitional introduction period until 31st December 2011, BS8599-1 is the new official UK standard for ALL workplace first aid kits.
This standard replaces the BHTA-HSE kits 10, 20 and 50, that are currently universally used in the UK, and are based on the HSE guidelines. The Current BHTA standard was published in 1997, and is long overdue a review. The BHTA standard will be withdrawn from 31st December 2011.
What the law says
The Health and Safety (First Aid) regulations 1981 states:-“An employer shall provide or ensure that there are provided such equipment and facilities as are adequate and appropriate in the circumstances for enabling first aid to be rendered to his employees if the are injured or become ill at work”
...The new BSi first aid kits are now the only safe and clear way for an employer to meet their obligations...
The HSE position
The Health and Safety Executive have been closely involved in the creation of this standard, being members of the BSi standards committee. The current guidelines contained in document L74 from the HSE are met and exceeded by the new BSi standard.
Why did we need a new standard?
Despite many EU states having a national standard for workplace first aid kits, until now, the UK did not. The BHTA guidelines, established in 1997 were in need of revision because training protocols have changed, there are heightened concerns with infection control, and new technology is now available at affordable prices.
There were only one pair of gloves in a 10 person kit - yet 33 dressings.
There were 4 triangular bandages - even though the training protocols no longer indicate their use for immobilisation of lower limb fractures.
Burns gel dressings are extensively used in first aid - now very available and affordable.
The new kits have good quantities of plasters and wipes, a common criticism of the old ones.
The New Contents:
GLOVES: More quantity reflecting the need, and Nitrile type in line with NHS and St. John Ambulance guidelines.
PLASTERS: Sensible quantities, reflecting consumer demand.
WIPES: Increased quantities, reflecting consumer demand. New specification is sterile and now must meet the European CE marking rules.
MEDIUM AND LARGE DRESSINGS: Fewer quantities, reflecting consumer demand.
TRIANGULAR BANDAGES: Quantities are reduced reflecting the change in training first aid protocol, where immobilisation of lower limbs using triangular bandages is no longer indicated.
FINGER DRESSINGS: A smaller finger dressing is introduced specifically for finger injuries that are too large for first aid plasters, dressing complete with an easy-fix adhesive tab.
BURNS GEL DRESSING: Every employer with as much as a kettle, must have a risk from burns. A modern burns gel dressing is added to meet this risk, together with a conforming bandage to attach and retain it.
ADHESIVE TAPE: Many first aiders prefer not to use safety pins, where additional injury could potentially be caused, adhesive tape is an easy and inexpensive way to secure dressings and bandages. Safety pins are retained, allowing users a choice of application.
SHEARS: Clothing around wound sites needs to be removed to allow first aid treatment. Shears, capable of cutting fabric and leather enable this removal.
FOIL EMERGENCY BLANKET: Clinical shock presents one of the most serious life threatening risks to a casualty, treatment includes keeping the casualty warm. The introduction of the foil survival blanket enables this.
MOUTH TO MOUTH RESUSCITATION DEVICE: The introduction of a mouth to mouth resuscitation device, incorporating a one way valve, protects the first aider from infection from body fluid pathogens.
EYE WASH: Incorporated into the travel kit since fixed eye wash stations are unlikely to be available. The environment of a travelling worker is unpredictable and could include a risk to eyes.
FIRST AID GUIDANCE LEAFLET: Conforming to the latest HSE guidance.
What kits are available?
There are four sizes of first aid kits, workplace small, medium, large and a travel kit.
What size is required?
Employers are required to make a risk assessment to decide what the hazard levels are and how many employees are involved in the area to be covered. There is a useful guide provided to help match this risk assessment to an appropriate size kit.
under 25 employees - small kit
25 - 100 employees - Medium sized kit
more than 100 employees - 1 large kit per 100 persons
HIGH HAZARD: e.g. light engineering and assembly work, food processing, warehousing, extensive work with dangerous machinery or sharp instruments, construction, chemical manufacture etc.
under 5 employees - small kit
5 - 25 employees - Medium sized kit
more than 25 employees - 1 large kit per 25 persons
These kits are available now as are top up packs for kits purchased in the last 6 months.