By Joanna Weekes
Today we have a question and answer from our helpdesk service on a topic that most likely affects every person reading this bulletin: painkillers in the workplace first aid kit.
You may have never thought about it before but the provision of paracetamol to your employees, even just an everyday painkiller such as Panadol, can make you liable in the event that an incident occurs such as its misuse by one of your workers.
So I thought I would bring it to your attention and highlight the importance of staying on the ball when it comes to what may appear to be a small workplace health and safety concern.
So here’s the question and answer…
What are the potential consequences of keeping painkillers in the first kit or on the premises for staff to help themselves to?
As with any other forms of medication, there will always be the risk of the medication being misused or taken unsafely.
If over-the-counter painkillers must be kept at the workplace, then it would be wise to leave them in the control of a trained first aider, who is responsible for keeping the medication in a locked and secure place.
A stringent policy should be drafted to regulate access to the medication and records should be kept of all distributions to workers.
You should also consider whether your drug and alcohol policy is sufficient to deal with the inappropriate use of such over-the-counter medication.
5 main points covered in this response are summarised as follows:
- Keep the painkillers in a locked and secure place
- Put provision of the painkillers in the hands of a trained first aider
- Regulate access to the drugs through a strict policy
- Keep records of when and who takes the painkillers
- Check your drug and alcohol policy to be sure that misuse of over-the-counter drugs in the workplace is dealt with