Get wise to First Aid Kits in the workplace

A guide on caring for your workforce and keeping on the right side of the law.

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 they are injured or become ill at work.”

The role of the HSE

The Health and Safety Executive provides a code of practice and guidance to help you meet your obligations under the law. Whilst this is guidance and not law, following this will ensure that you meet your legal obligations regarding First Aid in the workplace and will demonstrate, if ever questioned, that your First Aid provision has been considered against a risk assessment and is appropriate.

This code of practice and guidance covers all manner of topics relating to first aid, like first aid training, where it gives some practical guidance about how many trained first aiders you need in a workplace. With the contents of first aid kits, it only gives a list of the type of products that you might include in a first aid kit, and points to the BSI for further guidance.

The British Standard

A range of workplace first aid kits are detailed in British Standard BS8599-1. These kits have been professionally designed to help you fully comply with the HSE code of practice and guidance, and hence fully meet your obligations under the law. The standard is regularly reviewed to keep it up to date.

The BS8599 range comprises:

  • BS8599-1 Small Workplace First Aid Kit
  • BS8599-1 Medium Workplace First Aid Kit
  • BS8599-1 Large Workplace First Aid Kit
  • BS8599-1 Travel Workplace First Aid Kit

Other Workplace First Aid Kits

Since the HSE guidance is not binding, some workplace first aid kits are available that fall well short of the British Standard. By using these kits, an employer is not breaking the law. If however there is an incident, and an employee suffers harm that could have been prevented should a British Standard kit have been available, it might be difficult for employers to legally defend themselves.

Some kits are called HSE first aid kits, there is no such standard. Some kits quote BHTA, (British Healthcare Trades Association) standard, this standard was withdrawn in 2012 and replaced with the BSi standard.

Choosing the right First Aid Kit

Choosing the right first aid kit is now even easier. Decide if your work environment is LOW HAZARD or HIGH HAZARD by reading the table (below). Then how many employees there are in your workplace, and finally which of the three sizes of kit you will need, e.g. small, medium or large. It’s that simple


e.g. shops, offices, libraries etc.

Number of Employees

  • Less than 25
  • 25-100
  • more than 100

Number of Employees

  • Small
  • Medium
  • Large
  • (1 per 100 employees)


e.g. light engineering and assembly work, food processing, warehousing, extensive work with dangerous machinery or sharp instruments, construction, chemical manufacture etc.

Number of Employees

  • Less than 5
  • 5-25
  • more than 25

Number of Employees

  • Small
  • Medium
  • Large
  • (1 per 25 employees)
Contents* Small Medium Large Offsite
Sterile adhesive dressings (boxed) 40 60 100 10
Nitrile disposable gloves (pairs) 6 9 12 1
Burn dressing 1 2 2 1
Resuscitation face shield 1 1 2 1
Safety pins 6 12 24 6
Guidance leaflet 1 1 1 1
Contents list 1 1 1 0
Clothing shears 1 1 1 1
Sterlie finger dressing 1 1 1 1
Sterlie eyepad dressing 2 3 4 1
Sterlie medium dressing 4 6 8 1
Sterlie large dressing 1 2 2 1
Sterlie large dressing 1 2 2 1
Conforming bandage 1 2 2 1
Triangular bandage 2 3 4 1
Foil blanket 2 3 4 1
Adhesive tape 1 1 1 1
Alcohol free moist cleansing wipes 20 20 40 4
Sterile eye wash 0 0 0 1

*For full detail of sizes and composition of the various elements above, please refer to the standard, available at