All change for workplace first aid kits in 2019-20!

All change for first aid in 2019-20 - Image of bandages

All change for workplace first aid kits in 2019-20!

All change for workplace first aid kits: The next year is going to be an interesting one in terms of changes to the first aid arena, with several major changes coming over the next 12 months.

In this blog post I’m specifically looking at the changes to workplace first aid kit requirements, including the new types of kit; the introduction of teaching first aid as part of the national curriculum within England & the upcoming changes to the European Resuscitation Councils Guidance on first aid – the clinical guidance that all first aid instructors teach from during first aid courses.


Changes to workplace first aid kits.

Back in 2011 the British Standards Institute issued standard guidance on what should & should not be included within a workplace first aid kit. The guidance was only ever meant to be a best practice recommendation, as all businesses were (& still are) required, under Health and Safety legislation, to undertake a “needs assessment” to determine exactly what they should have in their own, bespoke first aid kit. Naturally, most businesses chose to follow the British Standard and purchased typical first aid kits for their size & type of workplace.

This was fine in the beginning, but just 4 years later a working group was tasked to reassess the contents of the BS 8599-1:2011 workplace first aid kit, to see whether changes to the recommendations should be made. Thankfully, workplaces haven’t changed that much since 2011. However, the overall threat to life and limb from terrorist activities certainly has. In recent years the Health and Safety Executive have changed the syllabus of workplace first aid courses to include training candidates in the use of tourniquets & haemostatic dressings. This has come about as a result of the increased knowledge relating to the initial medical treatments required for major trauma victims, such as those caught in terrorist blasts & shootings.

workplace first aid kits - Old first aid kit in a wooden box
Hopefully your first aid kit doesn’t look like this!

So what’s changed?

We now have the new British Standard BS 8599-1:2019, which came into effect on 31st January 2019 & relates to the specification of first aid kits for use in the workplace. The existing British Standard (BS 8599-1:2011) won’t be withdrawn until 31st December 2019, as they’ve allowed an overlap period for manufacturers & vendors of first aid kits sufficient time to refresh their stocks of 2011 compliant kits.

Where employers have work vehicles, BS 8599:2-2014 (Vehicle First Aid Kits) will still apply, as this new 2019 Standard only applies to workplaces.

The first thing that you’ll notice about the new Standard is that they’ve amended the recommended quantities of some of the contents. For example;

  • Workplace first aid kit (size = small):
    • Medium 12x12cm dressings: reduced to Qty 2 from Qty 4.
    • Large 18x18cm dressings: increased from Qty 1 to Qty 2.
    • Safety pins: no longer required.
  • Workplace first aid kit (size = medium):
    • Medium 12x12cm dressings: reduced to Qty 6 from Qty 4.
    • Large 18x18cm dressings: increased from Qty 2 to Qty 3.
    • Microporous tape: increased from Qty 1 roll to Qty 2.
    • Safety pins: no longer required.
  • Workplace first aid kit (size = large):
    • Medium 12x12cm dressings: reduced to Qty 8 from Qty 6.
    • Large 18x18cm dressings: increased from Qty 2 to Qty 3.
    • Microporous tape: increased from Qty 1 roll to Qty 3.
    • Safety pins: no longer required.

At this point it would be good to remind ourselves of exactly what the Standards recommend in terms of workplaces and quantities of first aid kits, so here it is;

Category of HazardNumber of people on siteQuantity & size of first aid kit
Low HazardFewer than 25Qty 1 small kit
(e.g. shops, offices, libraries, etc) 25-100Qty 1 medium kit
More than 100Qty 1 large kit per 100 employees
High HazardFewer than 5Qty 1 small kit
(e.g. light engineering & assembly work, food processing, warehousing, etc)5-25Qty 1 medium kit
More than 25Qty 1 large kit per 25 employees

Appendix A of the Standard also states that “where there are special circumstances, such as remoteness from emergency medical services, shift work or sites with several separate buildings, the quantity of first aid kits should be increased as appropriate.”

Workplace First Aid Kits – New kits, New categories

The next thing that you’ll notice is that they’ve replaced the “Travel first aid kit” with a “Travel and Motoring first aid kit”, and created two new categories of first aid kit; the “Personal issue first aid kit” & the Critical injury first aid kit”. The new Travel and Motoring First aid kit is to include;

  • Guidance Leaflet (Qty 1)
  • Contents Label (Qty 1)
  • Medium 12 x 12cm Dressing (Qty 1)
  • Triangular Bandage (Qty 1)
  • Water Resistant Plasters (Qty 10)
  • Moist Cleansing Wipes (Qty 10)
  • Nitrile Gloves (Pair) (Qty 2)
  • Resuscitation Face Shield (Qty 1)
  • Foil Blanket (Qty 1)
  • Burn Dressing 10cm x 10cm (Qty 2)
  • Heavy Duty Shears (Qty 1)
  • Low Adherent Wound Pad 7.5cm x 7.5cm (Qty 1)
  • Trauma Dressing (Medium) 10cm x 18cm (Qty 1)

Personal issue first aid kit

The Personal Issue First Aid Kit is to be issued to first aiders, should their employers assess that it would be prudent or necessary in light of their job role (e.g. security personnel, cleaners, maintenance personnel).

  • Guidance Leaflet (Qty 1)
  • Contents Label (Qty 1)
  • Large 18 x 18cm Dressing (Qty 1)
  • Triangular Bandage (Qty 1)
  • Water Resistant Plasters (Qty 10)
  • Moist Cleansing Wipes (Qty 4)
  • Nitrile Gloves (Pair) (Qty 2)
  • Resuscitation Face Shield (Qty 1)
  • Foil Blanket (Qty 1)
  • Heavy Duty Shears (Qty 1)

Critical injury first aid kit

Perhaps the most distressing, but sensible addition to the Standard is that of the new Critical Injury First Aid Kit. This, the Standard suggests, is typically for use by those who “work with dangerous machinery or sharp instruments, cutting equipment, power tools, construction, agriculture, forestry, etc.”

The guidance goes on to suggest that; “Appropriate numbers of this pack should be stored, in line with the risks assessed. Employers should take into consideration the maximum number of people on site at any one time.” “In addition, following a risk assessment, an employer might consider storing appropriate quantities of critical injury packs to be equipped to deal with injuries to employees or the public resulting from acts of terrorism or other mass casualty incidents.

As far as I can remember, this is the first time terrorism and mass casualty incidents have been mentioned before in regular (non-specialist) first aid guidance issued in the UK. From having spoken to manufacturers of these types of critical injury packs, I can confirm that there are hundreds, if not thousands of them already distributed around the UK at places where large numbers of people gather.

Having the kit is one thing; knowing how to use it is another. If you’re considering investing in Critical Injury First Aid Kits, you’d be well advised to attend our Critical Injury Responder Course, where you’ll learn how to use the contents of the kit and so much more.

You’ll learn about the types of injury you might find & how to treat them using the contents of a Critical Injury First Aid Kit. The 6 hour course is delivered in such a way as to bolster your first aid knowledge. You won’t be bombarded by technical jargon; just simple, clear and concise information. We include plenty of practice time to make sure that your hands remember what to do should you be faced with a critical injury, because your memory will take a few seconds to catch up.

workplace first aid kits Traumafix Military Field Dressing - When you've a major bleed to deal with, and a traditional ambulance dressing just isn't going to cut it, you need a military field dressing and this is the best that we've found.
The “Traumafix” Trauma Dressing – a very-stretchy elasticated pressure bandage allowing direct pressure to be applied quickly and maintained easily.

So what exactly is in this new “Critical Injury First Aid Kit”?

The Standard gives us a list of suggested items that should be contained in a Critical Injury First Aid Kit. The list being as follows;

  • Guidance Leaflet (Qty 1)
  • Contents Label (Qty 1)
  • Nitrile Gloves (Pair) (Qty 2)
  • Trauma Dressing (Large) 15cm x 18cm (Qty 2)
  • Haemostatic Dressing (Qty 2)
  • Tourniquet (Qty 1)
  • Foil Blanket (Qty 1)
  • Heavy Duty Shears (Qty 1)

Helpfully, the Standard also provides some definitions as to all the elements of the new kits. While some are pretty obvious, others need some clarification.

  • Trauma Dressing (Large): “A pressure bandage measuring a minimum of 15cm x 400cm (stretched length) and conforming to BS 7505:1995 (specification for the elastic properties of flat, non- adhesive, extensible fabric bandages) type 3B with a wound pressure pad not less than 15cm x 18cm of at least 500g/m2, with a low adherent wound contact surface.”
  • Trauma Dressing (Medium): “A pressure bandage measuring a minimum of 10cm x 400cm (stretched length) and conforming to BS 7505:1995 (specification for the elastic properties of flat, non- adhesive, extensible fabric bandages) type 3B with a wound pressure pad not less than 10cm x 18cm of at least 500g/m2, with a low adherent wound contact surface.”
  • Haemostatic Dressing: “A medical device for use on severe wounds to significantly shorten bleeding times through the accelerated promotion of clotting. Can be presented as a roll, sheet, ribbon, gauze, foam, powder, wool, or as part of another dressing.”
  • Tourniquet: An emergency haemorrhage control device, applied to a limb, with a mechanism to control the application and release of pressure, utilising a windlass, pneumatic compression or form of mechanical advantage to fully occlude blood flow and stop catastrophic blood loss.”

Attend our Critical Injury Responder course to learn how to use the contents of the new Critical Injury First Aid kits. (click for more details).

So how does this affect you?

In simple terms, if you were to go out an buy a first aid kit today, you’ll probably receive one that states that it’s BS8599:1-2011 compliant (or more likely simply BS8599:1 compliant). That’s fine, but as we’ve seen above, the new standards are already in place. So if you’re looking to buy a new first aid kit, I’d recommend that you ask whether the kit that you’re going to receive will be compliant with the new Standard.

Don’t forget though, the Standard is simply a recommendation – you need to undertake a needs assessment to determine exactly what you require for your workplace. As such, there isn’t anything to say that a 2011 compliant kit isn’t going to be suitable for you in 2019 or beyond because you will have determined exactly what it is that you need in your needs assessment.

If you’ve undertaken your needs assessment and you’ve determined that it would be reasonable to invest in a Critical Injury first Aid Kit, I’d also seriously consider investing in the training on how to use the kit as well. If someone is bleeding out in front of you, the last thing that you want to be doing is faffing around reading instructions and trying to figure out what you should be doing with “that new big first aid kit”.


First Aid to be taught in primary & secondary schools.

First Aid to be taught in schools - Image of a child learning to write letters

The next big change in 2020 is that first aid is to be taught in schools in England, as part of the national curriculum. Yes, after much nagging and kicking and screaming, not to mention it having being filibustered out of Parliament no less than twice (!) by MP’s, the UK Government have finally seen sense and have decided kids in England should be taught first aid as part of their school education.

The Department for Education issued a consultation document in July 2018 (closing in November 2018) in relation to the teaching of “Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education”.

At the time of writing this blog post, the Government are considering “the draft statutory guidance and regulations will follow from the assessment of the consultation responses. Following consultation, we expect regulations will be laid in the House, alongside final draft guidance, allowing for a full and considered debate in the first half/quarter of 2019. The final statutory guidance will be published once the regulations have been passed“.

The draft guidance for teaching “Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education” state that by the end of primary school, students should know:

  • how to make a clear and efficient call to emergency services if necessary.
  • concepts of basic first-aid, for example dealing with common injuries, including head injuries.

They go on to say that by the end of secondary school, students should know:

  • basic treatment for common injuries.
  • life-saving skills, including how to administer CPR.
  • the purpose of defibrillators and when one might be needed.

So how will this pan out in September 2019?

It remains to be seen how schools in England will implement these new requirements. The final version of the Guidance is likely to be issued at the end of the 2018-2019 academic year, meaning that schools will have to work out how to teach the subjects over the holidays, ready for the 2019-2020 school year.

The draft guidance does offer some help to schools in the form of Annex B, which provides a list of external resources available to teachers to assist in the teaching of the new requirements. However, there is no mention of how schools are to teach first aid.

If your school is looking for help on how to teach these subjects, please get in touch. We’d love to help you now, rather than over the summer holidays when we expect all the other schools will be getting in touch!


European Resuscitation Guidelines 2020.

Finally (?) we have the 2020 release of the European Resuscitation Guidelines, which are scheduled for release towards the end of 2019. These are most likely going to be released in November 2019, shortly after the European Resuscitation Council’s Congress, which is being held in Manchester (at “Manchester Central”, or as everyone still calls it, “The Gmex Centre”) over the 22nd-24th of October 2019.

Our thoughts

What will be included in the revised guidelines remains to be seen, but I’d strongly suspect that;

  • there will be the reintroduction of elevation to treat bleeding.
  • teaching people how to put casualties into the “recovery position” (aka the “safe-airway position”) will be completely dropped from all first aid syllabuses, with the possible exclusion of paediatric first aid courses where infants (children under 1 year old) are put into a cradling style of recovery position.
  • there may be a requirement for workplaces to roll-out the new Critical Injury Packs, or something similar (bearing in mind that this is European-wide guidance), along with training on how to use them.
  • There may also be new guidance in relation to de-choking devices, but I suspect that this is less likely.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Leave a comment below.

Chris Garland. Founder and lead instructor at Chris Garland Training.
All change for workplace first aid kits in 2019-20!

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