According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment of New Zealand (MBIE), it is required to have at least one first aid kit in every workplace. The recommendations for the workplace first aid have been given in their Guide.
The number of needed first aid kits rises with the number of employees and the size of the workplace. For every 50 employees, an additional workplace first aid kit should be added. If the workplace has more than one floor, a first aid kit should be on each of the floors.
The first aid kits should be positioned in a way that makes them clearly visible. There should be signs in place that point to them and there should never be anything that blocks the first aid kit. Ideally, right next to the first aid kit should be a wash basin with both hot and cold running water and a supply of clean towels and soap.
Based on this, a perfect place for positioning first aid kits are washrooms or anywhere near them, especially in crowded multi-storey places such as schools or restaurants.
If a school is your workplace, don’t miss out on learning all the positive effects washrooms that meet the legal requirements have on the staff and students’ safety.
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However, it is not enough to just install the first aid kits and to hope that there will be no emergencies. As an employer, you need to make sure that the first aid kits are regularly checked, so that the items are replaced before their expiry dates and that used items are regularly replenished.
What Should Be in a Basic First Aid Kit?
The MBIE Guide leaves it up to the employer to decide on the final contents of the first aid kits in their workplace. This is best estimated after conducting a thorough first aid workplace assessment.
First aid requirements are different for low-risk workplaces, such as offices, single person companies, retail stores without major warehouses and similar.
On the other hand, there is an entirely different situation in the mining industry, automotive workshops, businesses that require heavy machinery, and the like. The hospitality business is not without its challenges, either, although it cannot be compared to mining.
These are the basic items that should find their place in your workplace first aid kits:
- First aid guide
- Contact information of workplace first aiders
- Moist wipes
- Adhesive dressings
- Triangle and stretch bandages
- Eye pads
- Saline solutions
- Safety pins and clasps
- Tools such as gloves, scissors and tweezers
- Resuscitation mask
Wipes, dressings and bandages should be unmedicated and entirely sterile. They need to be packed individually so that when you take out one piece, the others stay uncompromised. Stock them in different sizes, so they can match different requirements.
The adhesives should be in different sizes and you should have at least 20 of them. As for the stretch and triangle bondages, make sure that you have at least 2 of each. The same goes for the eye pads.
It is not legally regulated whether the pain medication should be stocked in the first aid kits. There is an ongoing discussion about whether this is justified or not.
One side claims that they are over-the-counter medications that people can freely use at any moment. The other side says that any kind of medication should be administered by a medical professional, especially in the case of an emergency.
This is a judgement call for the employer. However, if you choose to stock the pain relief medication, their use must be closely monitored.
How Many Aiders Are Needed in the Workplace?
First aiders are employees who hold the First Aid Certification and are qualified to offer first aid in the case of emergency. However, there is no law that says if you have to have a first aider in your company or how many of them should be present.
The need for the first aiders is regulated by the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, but it doesn’t go into details. It only says that you need to come up with procedures for dealing with the emergencies. This leaves a lot of room for interpretation from the employer. In other words – it is up to you.
MBIE also advises that the employers are the to make the call about the number of first aiders, based on the workplace assessment. First Aid workplace assessment involves examining the characteristics and the specifics of the workplace in the aim to tailor the best possible solution for the first aid distribution.
The factors that need to be considered when making such an assessment include:
- The number of employees
- Specifics and hazards of the industry
- The size, the location and the work organisation (e.g. shift work)
- The proximity of the medical assistance centre
If you opt for first aiders in your workplace, you need to keep in mind that some of those people need to be present at all times. For example, if you don’t have a lot of employees, but they work in three shifts, you need to make sure that there is one first aider in each of these shifts.
The holidays, sick days and other absences of the first aiders should also be covered. That is why you will need a couple of people trained to administer first aid in the most efficient way.
First aid certification is valid for two years. After those two years, a refresher course is needed for a person to keep their certificate. If there are more than three months from the moment the certificate expired, the first aider needs to take the course all over again to get a new certificate.
Besides the first aiders and the first aid kits, your workplace can also have a first aid room. However, even in that case, you will need the appropriately stocked first aid kits. Purchasing them is not the end of your worries. They need to be checked and rechecked regularly.
Some of the supplies will expire while others will be used. The first aid box itself can be compromised in some way, or the doors can simply get stuck. Running a good business and thinking about these issues at the same time is challenging.
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