First aid kits should be present in all places of work, whether you have a very small office with just a few people working in it, or you’re in a warehouse with many identified hazards. They can be hugely useful in the event of an accident, and all employers are required by law to keep their employees safe while they’re on the job. Having a good first aid plan is part of that. While there are no set rules for what a first aid kit should contain, there are guidelines available, and even international standards. What we’re going to do in this article is go through all of the most important bits that should be found in any and all first aid kits, as suggested by the Health and Safety Executive.
It’s a very good idea to keep a basic informational leaflet with your first aid kit that covers how to use most of the contents, and what to do in certain common first aid situations. These are readily available, and can be extremely useful, particularly for those members of staff that need to use the kit but who are not trained first aiders. This is fairly common for first aid in the office, particularly smaller ones. If you think some level of training is required in your office, then you may be interested in the Virtual College primary survey course.
Probably the most well known part of any first aid kit, plasters are great for dealing with cuts and grazes that can arise from even the most seemingly harmless workplace. They help to protect the wound and allow the healing process to start. It’s a good idea to have a few different plasters of varying sizes and shapes. This will help for cuts in awkward areas such as on the hands, and different sized injuries. There are also waterproof and brightly coloured variants available for certain industries such as when working with food. Remember that some people can be allergic to things like latex which is used in some plasters, so choosing hypoallergenic is a good idea.
Eye pads fulfill many of the same jobs as a plaster would, but for the eye. Following an injury to the eye, it’s important that contaminants are kept out, and that the wound is able to start healing uninterrupted. Eye pads are cushioned and help to protect the eye while remaining comfortable, and are usually absorbent too, which can be useful if the eye is weeping.
Triangular bandages are a very useful addition to the first aid kit, and are designed to support the arm when the arm, hand, wrist, shoulder or elbow is damaged in some way. This may be because of a fracture or dislocation, or even a nasty cut. Usually you will need to keep some safety pins with the bandage, as these are used to ensure that the sling is positioned correctly for the person and injury.
For wounds that are more significant than a plaster can deal with, wound dressings will need to be used, which is why any good small first aid kit will contain some of these in a variety of sizes. There are lots of different types of dressing on the market for different specific needs, so if you work somewhere where there are specific hazards, you may need more specialised dressings. For most office environments however, you should simply look for standard adhesive dressings that are designs to absorb blood and any other fluid coming from the wound, as well as forming a protective barrier.
Wet wipes can be very useful for gently cleaning wounds to make sure that there are no contaminants in them. They can also be used for wiping away dried blood and anything else that may remain on the skin when you’re cleaning up around a wound in preparation for applying a dressing. Remember that they must be sterile in order to guard against infection.
Finally, disposable gloves should be part of all first aid kits, as they are essential to use when treating anything other than a very small cut. They protect the wound from contaminants that may cause it to become infected, and they also help to ensure that the first aider does not come into contact with blood or other fluid. Do be aware that many disposable gloves are latex, and that some people have severe latex allergies. As a result, there are COSHH guidelines that suggest avoiding latex if possible. You can find out more about COSHH in our Health & Safety courses section, which can be found here.