Q&A – Can first aid kits contain medication?

Mild painkillers, throat lozenges or burn ointment: medicinal products which each provide relief in the event of minor ailments or incidents. But can first aid kits in the workplace contain such medication?

As an employer, you are obliged to put together a first aid kit to facilitate first aid in your organisation. This is based on a risk analysis and on the advice of the company doctor. Administering medication, however, does not fall under first aid.

The letter of the law

As an employer, providing medication to employees is even an offence and you risk being held liable for administering it should there be any side effects or an allergic reaction. According to the letter of the law, medicinal products do not belong in a first aid kit. The reasoning: only a doctor or pharmacist can correctly assess what medicine is required, after all.

The company doctor will also not administer medicine in a hurry. Their primary task, after all, is to take preventive measures in protecting the employees’ physical or mental health.

Grey area

In practice, some organisations do supply medication in the workplace which is available without prescription. For example, mild painkillers, burn ointment or medication for gastrointestinal complaints. The employee is solely responsible for taking or applying these products.

By stocking medication for minor ailments, but not directly offering them, employees can decide for themselves whether or not to take a medicinal product. This way, they do not need to go to a doctor or pharmacist straight away, while you stay within the rules of what is permitted by law.

Tip: informally check employees for allergies or previous experiences with medicinal products.  Based on this information, you can exclude certain medication in the workplace, if necessary, or clearly indicate the substances that involve risks.

Offer first aid quickly

Want to organise first aid in your organisation? These five steps will get you started. If you have a specific question, please contact us on +32 2 549 71 00 or health@mensura.be.

Mensura will help you develop a targeted approach.

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