Staying up-to-date on OSHA’s first aid requirements can help ease the severity of nonfatal workplace injuries for a safer work environment.
Are you up-to-date on first aid requirements for your workplace? According to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), approximately three million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses are reported each year. To help prevent minor injuries from becoming more serious, OSHA requires that first aid supplies be readily available to treat minor injuries that occur in the workplace.
OSHA’s medical service and first aid regulation, 29 CFR 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 shall be adequately trained to render first aid. Adequate first aid supplies shall be readily available.” First aid kits are designed to deal with common workplace injuries including major and minor wounds, minor burns, sprains, strains and eye injuries.
Assessing Your Workplace Needs
Appendix A of the OSHA regulation provides non-mandatory guidance to assist employers in specifying and maintaining first aid kits. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), an organization dedicated to the health and safety of consumers and the environment, works with OSHA to develop safety standards. ANSI Z308.1-2008 Minimum Requirements for Workplace First Aid Kits and Supplies provides requirements that are compliant with OSHA intent. According to Appendix A, contents of the kit listed in the ANSI Z308.1 standard should be adequate for small work sites. When larger operations or multiple operations are being conducted at the same location, employers should determine the need for additional first aid kits at the work site, additional types of first aid equipment and supplies, and additional quantities and types of supplies and equipment in the first aid kits. By assessing the specific needs of their workplace, employers can help ensure that reasonably anticipated supplies are available. Employers should assess the specific needs of their work site periodically and augment the first aid kit appropriately. Employers should consider how many kits are needed based on the number of employees, physical layout of the workplace, response time to access supplies and remoteness to emergency services.
Up to Safety Standards
ANSI Standard Z308.1, “Minimum Requirements for Workplace First Aid Kits and Supplies,” is a voluntary standard intended to help employers address these needs and be in compliance with OSHA first aid requirements. Revised and published in June 2015, ANSI Z308.1-2015 has an implementation effective date of June 17, 2016. The standard specifies products that must be contained in any workplace first aid kit in order to address injuries that are likely to occur, namely major and minor wounds, minor burns and eye injuries.
ANSI Z308.1 should be viewed as a starting point for an organization’s first aid kit. Many workplaces have job-specific risks that should be addressed on a case-by-case basis with the addition of products necessary to meet those unique needs. The standard tells you what type of kit to use for specific situations, and the workplace safety supplies that need to be included in each type of kit. A key change in the 2015 revision to the standard is an expansion to help employers determine first aid kit needs for complex work sites. The standard now includes two classes of first aid kits. Class A kits are for the most common workplace injuries, like minor cuts, abrasions and sprains. Class A kits are meant for non-industrial situations with small numbers of people. Class B kits contain more variety and quantity of supplies for injuries that might occur in more complex or high-risk environments. Both classes are designed to deal with common workplace injuries, including major and minor wounds, minor burns, sprains, strains and eye injuries.
New items that weren’t included previously are scissors for A and B kits and a splint and a tourniquet, which are required for Class B first aid kits. Within the two classes are four types of kits: Type I is usually mounted on a wall; Type II is portable for indoor use; Type III is for both indoor and outdoor use and is portable but can also be mounted in a fixed position; and Type IV is for outdoor use and where there’s potential for rough handling.
It’s important to note that ensuring that your first aid cabinets meet the standard is the employer’s responsibility. As the implemention date nears, be sure to educate yourself on the requirements and do a full assessment of your current inventory.