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The 4 Most Common First Aid Mistakes in the Workplace

First aid is a critical function in the workplace.

Most people think about first aid as minor cuts, scrapes, and burns, but it’s also about being ready for more major issues such as spine injury, concussion, burns, allergic reactions, and much more.

When first aiders are not prepared properly, the consequences can be significant. A first aid kit that’s not fit for purpose can make a stressful situation harder. And if an investigation finds that you haven’t been complying with your WHS obligations, it can be expensive.

Lets look a four of the most common first aid kit mistakes in the workplace and how to avoid them:

Mistake #1 – Keeping half used items

You’re a waste conscious person and you don’t want to make more rubbish. It’s got to be a good idea to keep this half-used bottle of saline.

No! Its not! Leaving opened products or reusing some things in a workplace kit is just unsafe.

Once opened, items are no longer sterile and can deteriorate quickly. This can lead to them being ineffective or even a source of infection.

Half used items should be replaced immediately.

What can you do to minimise waste?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Decide on the size to meet the risk.  For example, where the risk of dust in the eyes is higher, you might have a larger bottle of saline for eye wash. But you don’t need it that big in all your kits.  For a general kit, where the risk is assessed as lower, you may choose to have smaller tubes.
  • Buy more, smaller versions of the same products, such as saline, chlorhexidine or creams and gels.  Most products have a size option that is perfect for single use. They can be more easily replaced and will have less waste

Mistake #2 – Not keeping the kit organised

One of your co-workers has a minor injury and you get the kit to treat them.  When you open the kit, dust covers your hands.  You look for the items you need but they are buried under a pile of 10 triangular bandages. No one’s sorted this kit out since the last time it was use!

This can be a problem for a good reason – Injuries are so uncommon that it’s a long time between uses for the kit.

Usually however, it’s because no one thinks it’s their responsibility to keep the kit in working order.

This one is an easy fix.  One of your first aiders should be assigned to check, clean and organise the kit on a regular basis.  Depending on your workplace, this could be monthly or something else. What matters is that looking after the kit is a specific person’s job.

Mistake #3 – Not matching the contents with your hazards

You’re super organised.  All your kits, no matter where they are, have the same contents and they are all neat and tidy.  Even the office kits have lots of wound dressings, just like the ones in the workshop.

Sounds great doesn’t it? But there’s a small problem. Having the same contents across all kits can mean that you have supplies in some kits that will porbably never get used. It can also mean that sometimes local risks get missed and some kits don’t have enough of specific items. 

When you are doing your risk assessment its important to make sure you have what you need where you need it. For example, it’s unlikely that you’ll need flash burn treatments in the office, but it’s also essential that they are in the kits near where the hazard is. 

This means looking at a range of information including:

  • Existing risk assessments, including where the risks are found
  • Safety Data Sheets and where those products are being used
  • Injury records

Matching this information up can give you the best picture of what you need and where.  Once you’ve done this you may decide to change the contents or even location of your kits

Need some help? We would love to help you find the right equipment for you.

Mistake #4 – Not keeping the contents up to date

You’re driving the work car and get a small cut on your hand.  You look in the first aid kit and all it’s got is some saline that expired in the Noughties and some dried out band aids that have lost their sticky.

Old first aid supplies are useless first aid supplies. This one is closely related to mistake #2, because it happens for the same reason – everyone thinks the kit is someone else’s job.  This is a common problem in work vehicles as they are often shared and the kit is tucked away in the glovebox, sometimes for months at a time.

The solution is easy – make sure someone checks the dates on all items on the kit.  Depending on how often the check is done, replace it if it expires before the next check is due.  So if you check the kit every month, replace items that expire that month.  If you check it every 3 months, replace anything that expires within 3 months.

Summary – Key actions you can take

To avoid all these mistakes there are some simple steps you can take:

  • Chose single use items to reduce the leftovers and wastage.
  • Make sure it’s someone’s job to check all the kits are tidy, up to date and have everything on their content list
  • Match the contents of each kit to the hazards in the area it’s used in
  • Get some help – Our trained team can help you keep all you kits ready and compliant

What we can do to help

At Accidental, we to pride in providing great customer service to our customers.  We are focussed on making it easier to meet your WHS compliance needs.  We over a complimentary on-site restocking service for your workplace.  This includes:

  • Providing advice on kit location and contents, making you first aid response smother, safer and more cost effective
  • Regularly checking the contents of your kits and ensuring they match the contents you want in them
  • Keeping your kits organised and clean.

Call us on 1300 115 193 or fill out our Consult Request Form and we’ll get in touch to arrange a time to come to your workplace.