British Standard 8599-1 for Workplace First Aid Kits
June 2011 saw the introduction of a British Standard for Workplace First Aid Kits.
Despite many EU states having a national standard for workplace first aid kits, until June 2011 the UK did not. The BHTA guidelines for 10, 20 and 50 people, 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 was 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.
Even with the introduction of the British Standard the law relating to First Aid in the workplace has not changed at all and is still The Health and Safety (First Aid) regulations 1981 and the Approved Code of Practice L74 published in 1997.
The Health and Safety Executive have been closely involved in the creation of this standard, being members of the BSi standards committee so, it is presumed that at some stage the HSE will incorporate the British Standard into the First Aid Regulations. Until that time the law has not changed.
In essence the British Standard has brought First Aid Kits in the Workplace into the 21st century with a sensible range and mix of modern products. Introducing kits that are BS8599 compliant is in line with most risk assessments to meet the law because the current guidelines from the HSE are met and exceeded by the new BSi standard. The British Standard has Small, Medium and Large First aid kits with a table giving a guidelines based on the numbers of employees. There is also a Travel First Aid Kit for employees working away from their base.
Deciding whether to upgrade first aid kits to BS8599 in the workplace is a sensible choice, but not yet a legal requirement. (As at October 2011).
There is a definite distinction between first aid kits used on the pitch/playing surface and the clubhouse/facilities.
Sports First Aid Kits used pitch side are not covered by the law but all governing bodies refer to having first aid provision and publish guidelines. Pitch side Sports First Aid Kit contents should be designed around the training of the person using them.
Sports Clubhouse/Facilities where people are employed are covered by the First Aid Regulations and First Aid provision is the law i.e. for grounds men, bar, office and maintenance staff. The regulations also state that where non employees are present such as schools, places of entertainment, fairgrounds and shops that provision should be made for the non employees.
First Aid provision whether for work or sport is subject to an assessment of first aid needs, it is up to the organisation to determine its requirements, the HSE and the Sports Governing bodies give very little guidance. For workplaces the BS8599 British Standard is a big improvement.
Jerry Newlove – October 2011