First aid kits are the finishing touch to a facility’s health and safety program. All businesses are required to have first aid kits on hand, as mandated by both OSHA and ANSI. Those requirements also happen to change depending on the number of people present in a building and the type of environment employees are working in. This article is going to go over everything you need to know about first aid kits, where to find them, and why they are such an integral piece to workplace safety.
First Aid Requirements in the Workplace
OSHA requires workplaces to be reasonably free of occupational hazards to give employees a safe and healthy environment to work in. But that doesn’t mean accidents can’t happen. Occupational accidents are very real, and very scary, for both the victim the people around them. For that reason, it’s incredibly important to have the right emergency response equipment to help stabilize the accident victim before emergency personnel arrive. With that being said, think of first aid kits as the reactive aspect of workplace safety rather than the proactive aspect, the latter is normally provided by planned maintenance and hazard elimination.
Let’s take a look at those important regulations put forth by both ANSI and OSHA regarding first aid kit contents and the industries that have specific standards to meet.
What are OSHA Requirements for First Aid?
First off let’s take a look at what OSHA considers medical treatment for first aid. This information can be found in 29 CFR 1904.7. First aid as treatments are defined as any of the following:
- Using non-prescription meds at non-prescription strength
- Administering tetanus shots
- Cleaning, flushing, or soaking wounds on the skin’s surface
- Using wound coverings
- Using ice and heating pads
- Using both immobilization and non-ridged items as a means of support
- Relieving pressure via drilling into a fingernail or toenail as well as draining blisters
- Using eye patches
- Using irrigation or a cotton swab to remove objects such as sawdust from eyes
- Removing splinters
- Using finger guards
- Physical therapy or chiropractic treatments for injuries
- Drinking fluids for heat stress
OSHA has several sections in 29 CFR that specifically cover first aid safety requirements, the first being 29 CFR 1910.151. This standard only has three sections:
- 1910.151(a) states, “The employer shall ensure the ready availability of medical personnel for advice and consultation on matters of plant health.”
- 1910.151(b) states, “In the absence of an infirmary, clinic, or hospital in near proximity to the workplace which is used for the treatment of all injured employees, a person or persons hall be adequately trained to render first aid. Adequate first aid supplies shall be readily available.”
- 1910.151(c) states, “Where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use.”
Now, there are several other special industry regulations that OSHA has outlined in the realm of first aid supplies. General Industry requirements in 29 CFR 1910 contains the following:
- 1910.266 Logging operations
- 1910.269 Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution
- 1910.421 Commercial Diving Operations
The following are first aid requirements for the Maritime Industry in 29 CFR 1915, 1917, and 1918:
- 1915.87 Medical Services and First Aid
- 1917.26 First Aid and Lifesaving Facilities
- 1918.97 First Aid and Lifesaving Facilities
Lastly are the first aid requirements for the Construction Industry in 29 CFR 1926:
- 1926.23 First Aid and Medical Attention
- 1926.50 Medical Services and First Aid.
OSHA First Aid Training Requirements
There isn’t a very detailed section about first aid training in 1910.151 because first aid training can mean so many different things in a variety of industrial environments. However, we will go over one of the more comprehensive training requirements located within Appendix B of CFR 29 1910.266 for logging operations. This is a particularly good example because loggers are often in locations that are increasingly hard to reach for emergency responders. Each employees needs to be trained for:
- Recognition and treatment of:
- Cardiac and respiratory arrest
- Lacerations, abrasions, and burns
- Musculoskeletal injuries
- Shock, loss of consciousness, psychosis
- Eye injuries
- Hypothermia and hyperthermia
- Drug overdose
- Applying slings and wound dressings
- Treating fractures, sprains, and strains
- Immobilization and handling/transport of the one who is injured
- Bite, sting, and poisonous, or venomous treatments
Training employees can take place in a number of different mediums such as in-person lectures, video, and written text. However, it’s best to remember that training is an integral part to first aid response, simply having the equipment on hand is not enough to save a person’s life.
The International Safety Equipment Association, also known as ISEA, is an ANSI accredited standard setting organization that specifically targets occupational safety equipment standards. First aid kits are certainly not left out of the safety equipment category! ANSI Z308.1builds off of OSHA’s regulations byclassifying first aid kits based on their contents and the amount of each item within the first aid kit. Depending on the class of first aid kit, it will be able to treat:
- Major wounds to stabilize the victim until professional medical treatment can be administered.
- Minor wounds such as cuts and abrasions.
- Minor burns
- Eye injuries
- Muscle strains
By first reviewing previous accidents and where they occurred within the workplace, the employer will be able to determine their facility’s specific needs. ANSI/ISEA Z308.1 is the final touch to a safety and health program in workplace first aid efforts. Having the right kit and enough medical supplies is essential to avoid fatalities in the event of serious injury.
Types of First Aid Kits
Picking and choosing what kind of first aid kit to use can be daunting, but as long as the ANSI and OSHA regulations above have been followed, it will be a synch. There are two classes of first aid kits that ANSI Z308.1 defines, as well as four different types revolving around portability.
Class A Supplies
Class A medical kits are primarily for low-risk environments such as offices, schools, retail outlets, and other public places. These types of environments don’t normally have moving machine parts, hazardous chemical, etc. With that being said, class A first aid boxes include the following items:
- Adhesive Bandages
- Adhesive Tape
- Antibiotic application
- Breathing barrier
- Burn dressing
- Burn treatment
- Cold Pack
- Eye covering with attachments
- Eye/skin wash
- First aid guide
- Hand sanitizer
- Medical exam gloves
- 2” roller bandage
- Sterile pad
- Trauma pad
- Triangular bandage
Class B Supplies
Class B medical kits are often needed for high-risk environments such as warehousing, manufacturing, etc. This is primarily because these types of jobs involve working with moving parts, vehicles, and other miscellaneous sharp objects. The only changes to a class B emergency kit involves adding the following supplies to the already existing supplies in a class A kit:
- 4” roller bandage
Class B first aid kits also hold more of each item due to the fact that class B kits are needed for more dangerous and high-risk workplaces. For example, class B would be needed for environments where moving machinery parts can cause loss of limbs. Hence the need for a tourniquet.
Make sure to check the ANSI/ISEA Z308.1 standard for first aid kit equipment quantities! Having the right amount will help facilities stay compliant with regulations and have enough supplies on hand at all times.
First Aid Container Types
There are four different container types for first aid kits categorized by their portability, weather resistance, corrosion resistance, and impact threshold. They include:
- Type I – This type of first aid kit is akin to the first aid cabinets that can be found in office environments and other general use environments. In fact, type I first aid kits are not meant to endure rough handling or be portable at all for that matter. They are generally mounted on a wall and stay there for their entire existence.
- Type II – Rough handling must be minimal in the environment that has a type II portable medical kit. This kit should only be used in indoor environments and be equipped with a carrying handle. These can be used in both office environments a well as manufacturing environments.
- Type III – These first aid kits are meant to be used in both indoor and sheltered outdoor environments. Type III portable medical kits must have a carrying handle as well as a water-resistant seal to prevent damage.
- Type IV – These first aid kits are the toughest you can get. Made for both indoor and outdoor environments where the possibility of rough handling as well as harsh weather is highly probable, these can be used in the transportation industry, construction, and even in the armed forces.
When deciding which of these classes of first aid kits to pick and the type of container to hold it all, it’s very important to address the risks present in the workplace and how likely accidents could occur. Employers must also make the decision of how many first aid kits to have based on the building occupancy and where to place them in the facility. Multiple first aid kits protect more people and allow for faster action since one is always close by.
Not only that, but the availability of emergency response and personnel must be observed. If the worksite is far away from a medical facility, then there will need to be more specialized medical equipment, and even additional first aid kits available to keep the employee stable until help arrives.
Identifying First Aid Stations
Now that we’ve covered what goes in first aid kits, it’s important to go over where they should be located and how they’re supposed to be marked for visibility. First off, the location should be:
- Easy to access
- In a clear and visible spot
Doing these two things will help employees get to the first aid equipment faster, therefore potentially giving them the opportunity to save someone’s life after an accident.
To make the first aid station even easier to find, it’s recommended that the employer label the first aid equipment container as well as put up a sign nearby to direct the person in need on where to find it. Typically, the color used to mark first aid equipment is green and white or red and white for specialty equipment such as an AED. Floor signs, floor marking, wall signs, and labels are all excellent visual tools.
Why is First Aid Important?
Having first aid equipment on hand is important because it allows for employees to take care of themselves and their co-workers in the event of an injury whether it be minor or severe enough to call out emergency personnel or take the victim to a hospital.
However, it’s incredibly important to remember that having first aid supplies or a trauma kit around doesn’t mean much if employees don’t know how to apply them to real life situations. First aid training for designated employees is required for all workplaces, which speaks as to how important safety is in both low-risk and high-risk environments.
Additional First Aid Measures
Aside from which class of first aid kits to choose, where to put them, and training employees, there are a handful of other additional first aid measures that will likely prove useful in numerous environments. The first example being a device. Specialty equipment such as automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, are exactly that. Learning how to work an AED is an extremely helpful skill as sudden cardiac arrest can turn deadly in a matter of minutes, which is often not enough time for emergency personnel to arrive.
The second additional first aid measures include remembering the three P’s for first aid and the three C’s for emergency situations. The three P’s include:
- Preserve life – The goal here is to prevent the condition from getting worse.
- Prevent deterioration – Get them in a stable condition while waiting for emergency personnel.
- Promote recovery – After doing everything possible before emergency response arrives try and provide comfort or pain relief.
Whereas the three C’s include:
- Check the situation to make sure it is safe for you to enter and then check the victim to determine the type of care they will need.
- Call 911 if the situation requires it.
- Care for the victim after making the 911 call.
These two methods used together are excellent to remember in the event of an emergency. Not only will it help keep the victim calm, but employees will be able to confidently perform what they’ve been trained to do in the event of an accident.
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