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Businesses confused about First Aid Kits

23 January 2013

Workplace first aid kits get a makeover with the introduction of a new national first aid kit standard..

St John Ambulance is encouraging businesses to clarify their procedures around the use and stocking of first aid kits, as research reveals that staff are confused about who in the workplace is responsible for them. The study of over 1,600 workers reveals that trained first aiders and other staff are struggling to understand who is responsible for the company's first aid kit and don't know who to notify when supplies run low. The news comes as the British Standards Institution (BSI) releases a new national standard for workplace first aid kits, the first in 14 years.

Kit confusion
Respondents to the St John Ambulance survey revealed they would notify anyone from their boss, facilities manager or designated first aiders when they had a first aid kit-related question or used an item in the kit. Worryingly, over a quarter (28%) didn't know what was in the kit at all and 5% of people said that they would do nothing about ordering new supplies if they had to delve into the kit for an emergency. With a new first aid kit standard introduced by the BSI on 1 July, St John Ambulance is urging employers and their staff to take this opportunity to not only update their kits, but also ensure they have a clear process in place to make sure it is always fully-stocked and within the expiry date.

What's changed?
The BSi introduced new kit standards to reflect the changes in workplaces in the last 14 years, as well as to add useful extra equipment.

• New scissors - tough enough to cut clothing, seatbelts etc in case clothing needs to be removed urgently, for example in the case of a heart attack
Burns dressings - with kettles and microwaves present in most workplaces burns are more prevalent. Burns dressings can be used when water isn't readily available
• Sterile cleansing wipes - for wiping up blood and wounds. Previously the wipes were not specified as sterile, however people weren't aware of this
Face shields - In case the first aider is worried about infection from bodily fluids
• Heat retaining blankets - if warm materials aren't available.

Employees at risk
First aid saves lives and is often the key to minimising the effect of an accident. Having the right equipment to hand can be crucial.

John Cunningham, commercial director at St John Ambulance said "Our research has revealed that nearly 30% of respondents feel employees don't know how to use a first aid kit and its contents properly - so might be caught short in an emergency. With over 26,000 people injured at work last year, employers must establish the best procedures to ensure their staff are equipped to be the difference between a life lost and a life saved. It is a risk they can't afford to take."

A full list of the new contents can be downloaded here.