When it comes to workplace safety, a well-stocked first aid kit isn't just a box to tick off your compliance checklist; it's a crucial component of your readiness to respond to accidents and emergencies. Yet, it's all too common for businesses to overlook their first aid kits, leaving them understocked, outdated, or simply not up to the task when the unexpected happens.

In this helpful guide, Julie Walker who is the owner of Meditrain Otago, shares her advice on creating a first aid checklist for workplaces. She ll also answer common questions such as what should be in a workplace first aid kit and how many first aid kits are required in the workplace. 

How many first aid kits are required in the workplace?

Work Safe NZ mandates that all workplaces must have at least one first aid kit for each workplace and ensure workers know where it is. You ll also need to factor in considerations such as multi-level workplaces, whether you have remote or isolated workers, and the distance between different work area. 

However, as Julie points out, every workplace is unique, and the one-size-fits-all approach rarely applies when it comes to safety. 

Work Safe's guidelines should really be viewed as the starting point, she says. For instance, a construction site with 50 workers will have different first aid needs than an office with five workers. 

By assessing the specific needs of your workplace, considering factors such as the industry type and potential injuries, you can ensure your first aid kit goes beyond the minimum requirements and is genuinely fit for purpose.

Getting to know your first aid kit

Familiarity with the contents of your first aid kit can significantly impact the outcome of an incident. With that in mind, it s important to make sure your first aid officers (and as many team members as possible) are well-acquainted with the first aid kit's contents and their usage. It's equally important that the kit contains good instructions in a language everyone can understand. 

Julie explains that first aid kits tend to be used more frequently than we realise. Sometimes minor incidents don't get reported or logged, and sometimes items are simply taken. This casual use can lead to a depletion of essentials, leaving the kit understocked when a serious situation arises, she says. 

To help prevent stock shortages, it s a good idea to establish a regular schedule for checking and restocking your first aid kit. A simple quarterly review may be enough for most workplaces, although high-risk environments might need more frequent checks. This routine not only ensures that your kit is always ready for use but also ingrains the importance of first aid readiness into the workplace culture. 

By keeping a close eye on your first aid supplies, you ll know that when the unexpected happens, your team is prepared to respond effectively, making your workplace safer for everyone.

What should be in a workplace first aid kit?

When it comes to assembling a first aid kit checklist for your workplace, a good approach is to start with a solid foundation and then tailor the contents to address the specific risks and requirements of your environment. 

Julie suggests beginning with a standard two-litre kit, which serves as an excellent baseline for most businesses. This kit covers the essentials but think of it as your starting point. Different workplaces face different hazards. For instance:

  • In industries where electrical burns are a risk, it's wise to include specialised burn dressings
  • For the food catering industry, blue plasters are essential, not just for their waterproof and detectable properties but also for food safety compliance. 
  • Thermal blankets are invaluable for shock management or in situations where cold temperatures can be an issue such as ski fields or on boats.  
  • AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators), while not mandatory for all workplaces, can be a critical asset in workplaces where the risk of cardiac arrest is elevated, such as in fitness centres, retirement villages, or for those working with electricity. The decision to include a defibrillator should be informed by a thorough risk assessment, taking into account the specific needs and circumstances of your workplace.

This level of customisation ensures that your first aid kit is not just a box-ticking exercise, but a practical, life-saving tool tailored to your specific workplace needs. Regardless of your industry, certain items should be present on your first aid kit checklist. These include:

  • Bandages and dressings: Essential for managing various injuries, your kit should contain 2 triangular bandages for immobilising limbs, roller bandages in both 5 cm and 7.5 cm widths for wrapping injuries, and a selection of non-adherent dressings for covering wounds without sticking to them.
  • First aid tools: Include 1 pair of medium rescue shears for cutting clothing or bandages, 1 first aid tweezer for splinter or debris removal, and 10 safety pins for securing bandages.
  • Hygiene and protection: Ensure there are 2 clean-up bags for safe disposal, 5 antiseptic wipes for cleaning wounds, 1 CPR face shield for safe resuscitation, and 2 pairs of examination gloves to protect both the first aider and the injured person.
  • Specialised items: Include 3 eye pads for eye injuries, 4 sterile gauze swabs for wound cleaning, and saline solution (120 ml) for wound or eye irrigation.
  • Wound management: Your kit should have a variety of dressings, including 1 medium and 1 large wound dressing for significant injuries, and combine dressings in small and medium sizes for heavy bleeding.
  • Plasters: A mix of 12 assorted fabric plasters, 25 normal fabric plasters, and 1 metre of dressing strip for cuts and scrapes.
  • Information and safety: Don't forget to include 1 set of first aid tips for guidance, and a hepatitis warning label to remind users of infection risks.

These items should be neatly organised in a durable first aid bag or container which is clearly labelled and easily accessible. 

First aid training

Where possible, it s ideal that as many employees as possible have a basic understanding of first aid principles. This training empowers team members to respond confidently and effectively in emergency situations, and that helps boost the overall safety culture within the workplace. 

MediTrain s regular first aid courses help ensure that employees are up to date with the latest techniques. And that can make a real difference when it comes to providing immediate care after an incident. 

Remember, a well-equipped first aid kit is only as effective as the people using it; investing in training is investing in the safety and well-being of your entire team.

Next steps towards a safer workplace

Taking the time to assess your workplace first aid kit checklist is a proactive step towards the safety and wellbeing of everyone in your business. 

If you're unsure where to start or if your workplace has complex first aid needs, it s worth reaching out for expert guidance. MediTrain are your workplace first aid specialists and can provide personalised assessments, first aid kit supply and restocking services, and first aid courses. 

With MediTrain's expertise, you can ensure your workplace is not only compliant but also a safer place for everyone. Contact our team to get your first aid kit checklist sorted today.