HSE finally endorse the British Standard 8599-1 Workplace First Aid Kits



First Review since 1997 of Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, issued on 1st October 2013.


Following a lengthy period of uncertainty, and continued pressure from the Professional Healthcare Industry, the HSE has finally acknowledged the suitability of the British Standard Workplace Kits (BS8599-1) as part of its first review since the existing Code of Practice was published sixteen years ago, in 1997.


In addition, radical changes in the way that First Aid Training organisations are accredited have been introduced. The HSE will no longer be responsible for directly approving or accrediting First Aid Training organisations. Instead, the employer will take the initiative in verifying the credibility of a person, or organisation, retained by the employer to undertake such training.


However, in order to retain some control over the standard provided, Ofqual, (SQA in Scotland) and in Wales, the devolved Government, will appoint new “Awarding Organisations” (AO’s) who will take up the responsibility of accrediting trainers and providing organisations as “regulated” providers.


It is important to note however, that this is not a mandatory scheme. Individuals and other providers can choose to opt for AO recognition, or, continue to provide services under non-regulated schemes based entirely on their own good name and reputation in the community.


The new HSE publication states:

“Some first-aid training providers choose to operate through voluntary accreditation schemes whose intention is to set and maintain standards in line with HSE requirements. These schemes are not mandatory and employers may decide to choose an independent training organisation, but these bodies may help employers select training organisations who offer a standard of training with appropriate content, suitable trainers and assessors, and relevant and robust quality assurance systems”.

Source: Health and Safety Executive L74 (Third edition) (Advance copy) 09/13 


Breaking from their determinedly stubborn position towards adoption of the new British Standard on Workplace First Aid Kits (BS8599-2 2012), the HSE has now included the following paragraph in the new document.  


“Employers may wish to refer to British Standard BS 8599 which provides further information on the contents of workplace first-aid kits. Whether using a first-aid kit complying with BS 8599 or an alternative kit, the contents should reflect the outcome of the first-aid needs assessment”.

Source: Health and Safety Executive L74 (Third edition) (Advance copy) 09/13 


More than ever, it is the employers individual risk assessment that must govern the content of a kit and overall provision of First Aid materials and equipment. This is also particularly applicable to companies proposing to design a bespoke kit of their own.


A small list of basic First Aid items remains in the new document. But, since the British Healthcare Trades Association has now formally withdrawn the 1997 version Workplace Kits, based on the standard 10, 20, and 50 person formula, the best guarantee of remaining fully compliant with the law, will be to adopt the British Standard Kits that have been available and recommended since January 1st 2012.