First Aid Materials/Equipment

Different Work Activities Need Different Provisions

Different work activities involve different hazards and therefore different first aid provision is required. Some places of work (e.g. offices, libraries etc.) have relatively low hazards whereas others (e.g. factories and construction work etc.) often have a greater degree of hazard or specific hazard involved. Requirements for first aid provision at work will therefore depend on several factors including the size of the workplace, the numbers
employed, the hazards arising, access to medical services, dispersal of employees, employees working away from their employer’s premises, workers in isolated locations etc. All of these issues will be described in the following sections.

As a minimum every workplace should have an occupational first aid box or kit. The following Table 1 (and the commentary on specific points which follows it) gives a broad indication of the type of first aid materials/equipment and supplies which would be reasonable in different circumstances.


Recommended Contents of Occupational First Aid Boxes and Kits

Table 1: Recommended Contents of Occupational First Aid Boxes and Kits

Materials Travel Kit 1 to 10 persons 11 to 25 persons 26 to 50 persons *1
Adhesive Plasters 20 20 20 40
Sterile Eye Pads (No. 16) (bandage
2 2 2 4
Individually Wrapped Triangular Bandages 2 2 6 6
Safety Pins 6 6 6 6
Individually Wrapped Sterile Unmedicated
Wound Dressings Medium (No. 8) (10 x
1 2 2 4
Individually Wrapped Sterile Unmedicated
Wound Dressings Large (No. 9) (13 x 9cms)
1 2 6 8
Individually Wrapped Sterile Unmedicated
Wound Dressings Extra Large (No. 3) (28 x
1 2 3 4
Individually Wrapped Disinfectant Wipes 10 10 20 40
Paramedic Shears 1 1 1 1
Examination Gloves Pairs 3 5 10 10
Sterile water where there is no clear running
2x20mls 2x500mls 2x500mls 2x500mls
Pocket Face Mask 1 1 1 1
Water Based Burns Dressing Small
1 1 1 1
Water Based Burns Dressing Large*3 1 1 1 1
Crepe Bandage (7cm ) 1 1 2 3

*1: Where more than 50 persons are employed, prorata provision should be made.
*2: Where mains tap water is not readily available for eye irrigation, sterile water or sterile normal saline (0.9%) in sealed disposable containers should be provided. Each container should hold at least 20ml and should be discarded once the seal is broken. Eye bath/eye cups/refillable containers should not be used for eye irrigation due to risk of cross infection. The container should be CE marked.
*3: Where mains tap water is not readily available for cooling burnt area.

The above Table 1 provides a general guide on the recommended contents of occupational first-aid boxes and kits based on numbers employed. Quantities indicated in Table 1 are minimum numbers and can be increased. The requirements for sterile water and water based burns dressings as per note 2 and 3 above are only where there is not a wholesome supply of tap water available. Also a single paramedic shears and pocket face mask is considered adequate.

Occasionally the quantities indicated in Table 1 will be insufficient and the actual amounts required should be based on a risk assessment. An obvious example is that drivers of dangerous goods vehicles would require a quantity of 2x 500mls of sterile water for eye irrigation in their travel kits due to the risk of contact with hazardous chemicals.

The appropriate number of boxes or kits required in any particular place of work will not only depend on the number
of employees but also the particular circumstances including the following in paragraphs 1.3 to 1.6 below.


Special Hazards

Where a workplace has employees exposed to any special hazards, such as:

  • (a) Risk of poisoning by toxic substances, e.g. certain cyanides or related compounds;
  • (b) Risk of burns from corrosive or oxidising substances, e.g. hydrofluoric acid;
  • (c) Risk of accidental exposure to hazardous substances, e.g. toxic, irritant or asphyxiant gases, requiring
    oxygen for resuscitation;
  • (d) Other specific risks identified in the Safety Statement required by Section 20 of the Safety, Health andWelfare at Work Act, 2005;

at least one first aid kit of the type specified in column 2 of Table 1 should be provided, together with any equipment or special antidotes appropriate to the risk posed by that hazard. These should be located as close as possible to the site where the hazardous process is carried on.


Employees Working Away From Employer’s Premises

Where employees regularly work away from the employer’s premises and there are no special hazards or problems of isolation, no first aid materials/equipment need be provided by the employer. Where such work involves the use of dangerous tools or substances (e.g. agricultural and forestry work, electricity, gas, water and telecommunications services, transport of hazardous articles and substances etc.) the travel kit specified in column 2 of Table 1 should be provided along with any special materials/equipment or antidotes as appropriate (see paragraph 1.3 above). It is not considered necessary that all employers should supply a travel kit to employees who travel in the course of their duties unless special hazards or isolation factors apply.


Isolated Locations

Workers may be relatively isolated even when working within a particular workplace such as a factory. This isolation may be accentuated on farms, forestry, mountainous areas etc. In such circumstances a first aid travel kit (column 2 of Table 1) should be available even in the absence of other factors such as dangerous tools or special hazards and in those situations where the nearest appropriate medical facility is more than 1-hours total travelling time from the place of work.


Employees of More Than One Employer Working Together

Where employees of more than one employer are working together, and the employers concerned wish to avoid duplication of provision, they may make an agreement whereby one of them provides the necessary first aid materials/equipment and facilities (e.g. on construction sites, the contractors involved might agree that all the necessary first aid provision will be made by the contractor who has the largest number of employees on site). In the absence of such an agreement each employer will need to carry their own responsibility.


Supervision of First Aid Materials/ Equipment and Supplies

In workplaces where there are occupational first aiders, first aid boxes and kits should be under their control. Otherwise they should be under the control of a responsible person named in the Safety Statement. The contents of the boxes and kits should be replenished as soon as possible after use in order to ensure that there is always an adequate supply of all materials. Items should not be used after the expiry date shown. It is
therefore essential that first aid m a t e r i a l s / equipment be checked frequently, to make sure that there are sufficient quantities and that all items are usable. First aid boxes should be made of suitable material designed to protect the contents from contamination by heat, damp or dust and should be clearly identified as first aid containers: the marking used should be a white cross on a green background. Sterile first aid dressings
should be packaged in such a way as to allow the user to apply the dressing to a wound without touching that part which is to come into direct contact with the wound. That part of the dressing which comes into contact with the wound should be absorbent. There should be a bandage or other fixture attached to the dressings. Dressings, including adhesive ones, should be of a design and type which is appropriate for their use.
Where an employee has received additional training in the treatment of specific hazards which require the use of special antidotes or special equipment, these may be stored near the hazard area or may be kept in the first aid box. No other items should be stored in first aid boxes or kits.


Siting of First Aid Materials/Equipment

In compact work places, where a number of employees work in close proximity, first aid materials/equipment should be sited at a point convenient to the majority of the workforce or where there is greatest risk of an injury occurring. Where work places have a large number of employees but are divided into a number of self-contained working areas, consideration should be given to setting up a main facility with supplementary materials/equipment in each of these working areas. A large plant with a small number of employees dispersed over a wide area may require provision in different parts of the workplace. Soap and water and disposable drying materials should be provided for first aid purposes. Where soap and water are not available, individually wrapped moist cleansing wipes may be used.


Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)

The provision of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in workplaces to assist in the prevention of sudden cardiac death should be considered. As mentioned in the Introduction, early defibrillation using an AED is one of the vital links in the “Chain of Survival”. Ideally, wherever there is an occupational first aider(s) in a workplace, provision of an AED should be considered. The training of other employees who are not occupational first aiders in the use of AEDs is also encouraged.


Reference: Health & Safety Authority, First Aid Guideline