Emergencies are a lot easier to deal with when you have the right tools at your fingertips. The workplace first aid kit is a key component of an organization’s overall safety plan, but how does a company go about assembling one that covers all the bases?
Let’s start with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and their regulation on first aid (1910.151(b)):
“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 shall be adequately trained to render first aid. Adequate first aid supplies shall be readily available.”
OSHA does not dictate what those “adequate” supplies are for general industry, although they do offer specific guidance for some industries such as logging, considered a “special industry” under their regulation 1910.266 App A. If your organization has remote outdoor worksites, consider the items on the OSHA-required list for logging sites:
- Gauze pads (at least 4 x 4 inches)
- Two large gauze pads (at least 8 x 10 inches)
- Box adhesive bandages (band-aids)
- One package gauze roller bandage at least 2 inches wide
- Two triangular bandages
- Wound cleaning agent such as sealed moistened towelettes
- At least one blanket
- Adhesive tape
- Latex gloves
- Resuscitation equipment such as resuscitation bag, airway, or pocket mask
- Two elastic wraps
- Directions for requesting emergency assistance
If your workplace is not governed under this particular mandate and you don’t have such rugged working conditions, there’s another standards organization that can give you some guidance on assembling your kit(s).
At the top of this year, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved a standard prepared by the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA), resulting in ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2014, the American National Standard-Minimum Requirements for Workplace First Aid Kits and Supplies.
As an article in the January, 2015 issue of ISHN explains:
One of the most significant changes from previous editions is the introduction of two classes of first aid kits, based on the assortment and quantity of first aid supplies. Class A kits are designed to deal with most common workplace injuries, such as minor cuts, abrasions and sprains. First aid kits designated as Class B include a broader range and quantity of supplies to deal with injuries in more complex or high-risk environments.
You can learn more about the standard and purchase a copy by visiting the ISEA website.
But the workplace safety professional already has another resource at his or her disposal to get the ball rolling on building the company’s kits. OSHA’s a best practices guide for first aid in the workplace suggests reviewing some of your own important company records and checking in with your local community heroes:
Employers who have unique or changing first-aid needs should consider upgrading their first-aid kits. The employer can use the OSHA 300 log, OSHA 301 reports or other records to identify the first-aid supply needs of their worksite. Consultation with the local fire and rescue service or emergency medical professionals may be beneficial. By assessing the specific needs of their workplaces, employers can ensure the availability of adequate first-aid supplies. Employers should periodically reassess the demand for these supplies and adjust their inventories.
Whatever you choose to include in your kits, be sure those kits are easy to find and easy to access so they are ready to assist you in an emergency.
So what’s in YOUR kit? How often do you review and update your supply selection? Let us know in the comments section below.