Workplace first aid - someone has to do it
There's no mystery about how to set up a strong workplace first aid program. OSHA has a very clear and concise document giving us a guide to best practices of a workplace first aid program. This guide is designed to help businesses understand what a successful program looks like. In this first of a five-part series on Workplace First-Aid, we are going to look at the most important aspect, "Someone has to be in charge". Yes, one person needs to be responsible, but, it takes others to help support the first aid program. Leaders, first responders, first aid supply coordinators, and all employees are involved in participating, supporting, or administering an effective workplace first aid program.
A leader/organizer oversees & supports the program
Don't be mistaken, even if you have a hospital next door to your place of business, you should still administer a program where injuries are documented, work practices are assessed and proper policies and engineering controls are put in place to reduce injuries. Common sense will also tell you to have basic first aid supplies available when minor cuts, scrapes, burns, or other non-life-threatening injuries occur. Not having a dedicated first responder does not remove the employer from being responsible for the health and safety of the workplace and their employees. Simply saying "We will call 911 for help" isn't the solution. Once 911 is called, several minutes will pass. Your business will have to decide what to do until help arrives. Will first aid be given? What training, supplies, or protocols do you have in place? A plan, policies, and procedures need to be in place for the welfare of your employees.
A first responder is dedicated to rendering first aid as part of their job
If an infirmary, hospital, or clinic is not within proximity, OSHA requires a trained first aid provider at the workplace. Who is a first aid provider in the workplace? Someone who is trained in the delivery of the initial medical emergency procedures, using a limited amount of equipment to perform primary assessment and intervention until emergency medical services arrive. They fall under the OSHA first aid standard and bloodborne pathogens standard. If your business is in near proximity to a clinic, hospital, or medical facility and decides not to have a first aid provider, key employees can still receive training and participate as responders if they choose and be covered by the Good Samaritan Act. First aid can still be given without the concern of liability.
"Outsourcing first aid supply replenishment goes against OSHA's recommendation."
A person responsible for choosing and maintaining first aid supplies
Many employers outsource their first aid supply replenishment program. This goes against the recommendation of OSHA, which states that "It is advisable for the employer to give a specific person the responsibility for choosing the types and amounts of first-aid supplies and for maintaining these supplies." Outsourcing supply management removes the overseers of the first aid program from the types of injuries, who is getting hurt and in some cases the product selection. (See our article "5 Things a first a service doesn't want you to know" for more info.) When managing a workplace first aid program, perceived convenience does not outweigh the cost of being removed from the supply management process. You lose awareness of injuries, the usage of supplies, the ability to select and adjust supply types and levels, and ultimately the ability to properly determine the necessary changes to your first aid supply replenishment program.
A Workplace First-aid program educates employees about who, what, where, and when first aid supplies are needed.
Everyone needs to know what to do if there is an emergency. Evacuations, tornadoes, or injuries all need to have a plan. If an employee is hurt, who do they see, where do they go, what is the procedure to get first aid? Not only should management know all of these answers, but employees should as well. Informing all employees about how to respond to a first aid emergency ensures quick and effective results.
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