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BS 8599-1 – Part 1: Specification for the contents of workplace first aid kits (guide)

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BS 8599-1
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For Guidance: since first invoked, in 1981, the First Aid at Work Regulations have required that the Employer determines what First aid equipment, consumables and training are provided to mitigate the risk that has been assessed. (Draft) BS 8599-1 gives simple guidance as to how such assessment should be ordered and audited.

Compliance with the standard does not ameliorate an employer's duty because under regulation - unlike the position, prior to 1981 - the HSE does not specify particular precautions and remedies against particular hazards.

For example: in Confined Spaces Entry: the old HSE guide, GS-5, particularly required that 'Oxygen revival equipment' be provided wherever the use of breathing apparatus was indicated. This is no longer mandated but, should injurious incident occur, where such provision might have ameliorated accident but had not been provided; an inquiry would doubtless adjudicate that the Risk Assessment and due first aid provision had been inadequate.

Thus current regulation implies, rather than mandates provisions very similar to those that were once accepted and practised. In areas of doubt, reference to the 'old first aid rules' is a prudent starting point and verification of risk and its practicable mitigation must be the responsibility of the Employer's appointed expert. This will rarely be a medical professional (unless the individual has very particular experience of the hazard in question) but will more likely be a safety and rescue professional who will be well able to quantitatively measure risk based on history and intelligent projection of future activity.  

Helios is here to assist you make your assessment competent and to reduce the impact and likelihood of accidental injury. We provide specialist First-aid training (such as use of Oxygen and other ventilation techniques) but we do not provide general First Aid at Work certificate courses. A list of registered FAW/EFAW training providers can be found at HSE web site: http://www.hse.gov.uk/firstaid/approved-training.htm

Hereunder are relevant abstracts from the draft:

4) The contents of a (small, medium, large or travel) workplace first aid kit shall be in accordance with Table 1. (below)

Category of risk

Number of employees

Number and size of first aid kit

Low risk

e.g. shops, offices, libraries

Fewer than 50


More than 100

1 small kit

1 medium kit

1 large kit per 100 employees

Medium risk

e.g. light engineering and assembly work, food processing and warehousing

Fewer than 20


More than 50

1 small kit

1 medium kit

1 large kit per 50 employees

High risk

e.g. most construction, slaughterhouse, working with chemicals

Fewer than 5


More than 20

1 small kit

1 medium kit

1 large kit


5 Container

The container shall be able to fit all of the relevant components inside and close securely. The container shall be clean, dustproof and provide protection for the contents in a workplace environment.

NOTE When selecting an appropriate container, temperature, maintenance, material durability and robustness should be considered.

6 Marking

1)  Marking BS 8599-1:201X on or in relation to a product represents a manufacturer’s declaration of conformity, i.e. a claim by or on behalf of the manufacturer that the product meets the requirements of the standard. The accuracy of the claim is solely the claimant’s responsibility. Such a declaration is not to be confused with third-party certification of conformity.

The attached download file is a copy of our 2007, general First Aid Guidance leaflet; in our view appropriate for inclusion with Low and Medium risk workplaces.

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