New BSi Compliant Workplace First Aid Kits Standard
The BSi (British Standard Institute) have recently published the new BS-8599 British Standard Workplace First Aid Kits on 30th June 2011 and allowing up until 31st December 2011 for businesses to conform. The current BHTA-HSE kits which were first introduced in 1997 based on the HSE guidelines, are now seen as outdated and inadequate due to changes in first aid protocol and therefore the new guidelines aim to improve upon this providing a more effective first aid guide. This BHTA standard is now set to be withdrawn on 31st December with the introduction of the new standard.
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”. Therefore by continuing to use the 1997 guidelines, organisations fail to be in compliance with these regulations and thus by providing a new standard, employers are able to meet first aid requirements effectively.
As member of the BSi standards committee, the HSE have been heavily involved with the development of the new standard and their current guidelines in document L74 go beyond the new standard.
Surprisingly, although the majority of EU states already enforce a national standard for workplace first aid kits, the UK did not. Due to changes in training protocol, increase concern with infection management and new innovations in first aid now becoming less costly, it appeared that the BHTA guidelines introduced in 1997 drastically needed updating.
Issues with the previous guidelines included:
• The vast amount of dressings included in the kits however only one pair of gloves
• Kits contained triangular bandages however it is no longer suggested in training protocol that they are required for immobilisation of lower limbs
• Burns gel dressings wasn’t available in the kits even though they are used significantly in first aid and are now much more affordable
• It has been suggested that the old kits didn’t hold an acceptable quantity of plasters and wipes
With the introduction of the new standard, the following changes to the kits have been made:
• An increased quantity of gloves in order to meet the demand which will be Nitrile type in accordance with the NHS and St. Johns Ambulance guidelines.
• A more appropriate number of plasters available.
• A higher quantity of wipes available which must be sterile in order to meet the European CE marking rules.
• A reduced number of medium and large dressings.
• Fewer triangular bandages in line with first aid protocol which no longer suggest their need for immobilizing lower limbs.
• Introduction of a smaller finger dressing which is more suitable for small injuries than the current plasters and dressings.
• Burns gel dressing has been introduced as the majority of workplaces will have a risk from burns from having something as simple as a kettle. The dressing will also include a conforming bandage to secure it.
• Where safety pins once were used, adhesive tape is now being introduced in order to secure dressings.
Safety pins will still be available so that first aiders can choose depending on their preference.
• The introduction of a foil emergency blanket allowing a casualty to keep warm in order to reduce the potentially fatal effects of clinical shock.
• In order to protect first aiders from infection, a mouth to mouth resuscitation device will be included in the new kits comprising of a one way valve.
• Travel kits will now incorporate eyewash as it is unlikely that fixed eye wash stations will be available.
• A new first aid guidance leaflet will be included in the kits detailing the latest HSE guidelines.
As well as the new inventory for the first aid kits, four sizes will be introduced; workplace small, medium, large and a travel kit. In order for employers to select the correct first aid kit for their particular work place, a risk assessment is crucial to determine the hazard levels and number of employees within the area.
The BSi has outlined a guide to help employers select the most suitable kit for their requirements:
• Low Hazard Workplace (e.g. shops, offices etc.)
- Less than 25 employees – small kit
- 25 – 100 employees – medium size kit
- Over 100 employees – 1 large kit per 100 employees
• High Hazard Workplace (e.g. extensive work with machinery, food processing, warehousing etc.)
- Less than 5 employees – small size kit
- 5 – 25 employees – medium size kit
- Over 25 employees – 1 large kit per 25 employees