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What is Legally Required in a First Aid Box

What is Legally Required in a First Aid Box

One of the most important parts of health and safety is the first aid box. You may ask yourself – are they necessary? What is legally required in a first aid box? What should you be aware of when getting first aid kits for your workspace?

Health and safety is of paramount importance with employers and employees, no matter where you work. This includes first aid and posters, signs, and general information for everyone to access for their safety and benefit. 

According to government first aid legislation, employers are required to provide ‘adequate and appropriate’ personnel, facilities, and equipment to employees. This includes individuals who are self-employed, and businesses with less than five employees.

However, ‘adequate and appropriate’ will vary depending on the workplace and surrounding circumstances. For example, more extensive first aid equipment will be required on a construction site than your regular office environment.

Are First Aid Boxes Mandatory in the Workplace?

What is Legally Required in a First Aid Box

First aid boxes are legally required in the workplace. In the UK, all workplaces need to provide sufficient and correct medical equipment and have trained personnel appointed. This is to ensure that, should an accident happen, help can immediately be given.

Thanks to safety regulations and EC directives, workplace safety also includes proper signage to fire equipment, fire equipment signs and multi-hazard construction signs where appropriate. Health and safety posters or leaflets are also legally required to be available to employees for their safety and benefit. 

When it comes to fire safety, additional steps should be taken. Fire assembly point signs and fire exit signs must be illuminated, though they don’t need to be photoluminescent. All signs should be in a suitably visible area for visitors and employees to see easily. 

First Aid Boxes for Non-Employees

First aid provision is not legally required for non-employees. This includes pupils and the public. HSE, however, strongly recommends that employers carrying out assessments for first-aid needs take these people into account and their kids can provide for them, too. 

What is Legally Required in a First Aid Box?

It’s important to mention that there are no legally required items for a workplace first aid box. However, HSE does offer guidance on what you should include in your kids should an accident happen.

HSE recommended first aid box contents list:

  • Antiseptic cream
  • Antihistamine tablets/cream
  • Tampons/sanitary towels
  • Tweezers
  • Cleansing wipes (alcohol-free)
  • Three pairs of disposable gloves minimum
  • Six safety pins
  • Two sterile eye pads
  • Two triangular bandages, individually wrapped and preferably sterile
  • Two large unmedicated wound dressing, individually wrapped and sterile
  • Six medium wound dressings, individually wrapped and sterile
  • Twenty plasters in assorted sizes, individually wrapped and sterile (type must be appropriate for your work and hypoallergenic can be provided)
  • A leaflet to offer guidance on general first aid, such as basic advice on first aid at work

Other useful first aid box equipment may include:

  • Foil blanket
  • Face shields
  • Clothing shears
  • Sterile eyewash
  • Burn dressings
  • Microporous tape

Depending on your workplace, additional supplies could be beneficial. Employers should always carry out risk assessments and decide which medical supplies could be necessary if an accident were to happen. 

What Happens if You Don’t Comply?

Employers who are found to not have a first aid box and someone appointed to handle medical arrangements can be prosecuted. They are likely to be fined, or, in severe cases, go to prison. 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) takes breach of first aid regulations very seriously, as it could put lives at risk. 

If you find that your workspace does not have a first aid box, carry out an assessment as soon as possible and get the appropriate supplies. 

Where Do You Get First Aid Boxed?

You can purchase fully kitted out first aid boxes online. There, you will be able to choose from a variety of kits based on your workspace needs. 

Always make sure to purchase first aid boxes and medical supplies from trusted suppliers. Everything inside the kit needs to meet regulations and standards. Failure to meet the necessary standards can be dangerous, and prevent proper treatment from being carried out when it’s needed. 

Is This Different in Other Countries?

Other countries will have different legislation to follow, and their governing bodies may recommend different supplies. As such, if you are planning on starting a business in another country, it is imperative that you research the rules there.

Some countries will require more people per first aid box, and others will require less. This, and how to carry out an assessment, are all crucial for employers who want to make sure they are following the law and keeping their employees safe. 

Do First Aid Boxes Expire?

Yes, first aid boxes do expire. This is because some medications and supplies become ineffective after a certain amount of time. In some cases, expired medical products can be exceedingly dangerous. 

Employers should check their first aid kits at least every three years. The shelf-life of a medical kit will be anywhere between three and five years once it has been produced. Always check the expiry date on supplies and replace expired items with fresh ones. 

Choosing the Right First Aid Box for Your Business

What is Legally Required in a First Aid Box

Because there are so many types of first aid boxes, it can be difficult to determine which one is best for your particular needs. Depending on the business and workplace, you will need to provide specific supplies in your first aid kit.

Your workplace will be categorised into two distinct environments: high risk or low risk. To determine this, a risk assessment will need to be carried out. Things that will have an impact on first aid requirements include accident history, lone workers, the number of workers, and more.

Once you have a clear understanding of risks, you can determine the correct box, and the correct number of kits, you will need. 

How Many First Aid Boxes Will You Need?

The number of first aid boxes varies depending on the number of people you need to provide for and the working environment. For example, you will need more kits in a high-risk environment than you would for a low-risk environment. 

Below are the kit recommendations for a low-risk environment:

  • Less than 25 people – one small kit
  • Groups of 25–100 people – one medium kit
  • Groups of 100 people or more – one large kit per group

Below are the kit recommendations for a high-risk environment:

  • Less than five people – one small kit
  • Five to 25 people – one medium kit
  • More than 25 people – one large kit per group

Remember to take into account non-employees that could be on the premises as well, such as pupils and the public. While it is not mandatory to have the supplies to aid them, it is strongly recommended to do so and get more than you think you need rather than less. 

What is Legally Required in a First Aid Box: Final Thoughts

First aid boxes are legally required in all UK workspaces. This includes businesses with five or fewer employees, and even the self-employed. However, there are no strict rules to follow regarding what your kit needs to contain. 

Rather, guidance is given by the HSE, and employers are encouraged to heed the information given. Once the employer has carried out an assessment of the workspace and taken into account the number of workers and the environment, they can decide on the first aid box that will work for them. 

So, to answer ‘what is legally required in a first aid box’ – it depends on a number of factors. With that being said, some items will always be recommended to be in these boxes. Some of these items include various plasters, bandages, antiseptic cream, and antihistamine tablets/cream.