One of the biggest frustrations most workplace first aid programs experience is determining what supplies to keep on hand. OSHA has a very clear and concise document giving us a guide to best practices of a workplace first aid program which includes how to determine what first aid supplies to keep on hand. OSHA wants businesses to have a healthy and safe work environment and this guide will easily walk you through each of the steps. In this second of a five-part series on Workplace First-Aid, we are going to answer the question, "What supplies do I need". But first, we need to ask 4 underlying questions that will ultimately provide our final answer.
A Workplace First-aid program includes identifying the risks
Accidents that cause loss of time from work are required to be recorded in an OSHA 300 log. Record keeping is an important part of identifying the risks involved with a particular job. These 300 log documents who was hurt, their job title, the date and where it occurred, and the type of injury they received. Also, supervisors and management should be aware of the non-recordable injuries where a worker uses the first aid kit. Details and the OSHA 300 log can be downloaded here. Reviewing your injury log is the first step in identifying the risks of a particular job process. Once the risks and types of injuries have been identified, keeping adequate supplies that reflect the kinds of injuries that could occur will be much easier.
A Workplace First-aid program focuses on hazard prevention and control to minimize risks
Preventing the injury from occurring is everyone's goal. Management can use the information they collect from a "Job Hazard Analysis" to reduce or eliminate hazards at work. A safer job with fewer injuries will be the result of the action taken to improve the job task and reduce the hazard. This in turn will increase worker productivity, lower workers' compensation costs, and generally provide a safer work environment. The hazard assessment can also be a helpful tool when training new employees about job safety.
A Workplace First-aid program complies with OSHA requirements
Osha states that the supplies must be adequate, should reflect the kinds of injuries that occur, and must be stored in an area where they are readily available for emergency access. Using the OSHA 300 log will also identify the type of injury and how many supplies are being used. An example of minimal contents of a workplace first aid kit is described in the ANSIZ308.1-2003 list. A new revised list is being published in 2015 and will include more items. Currently, we have listed the 2003 ANSI requirements here along with some other examples of a first aid list. Ultimately, the types of injuries will determine what types of supplies you should stock. MFASCO Health & Safety has a great tool to help you create your own first aid checklist. It will identify the minimum requirements and also offer other products you may need based on your needs. See our Build-A-Kit page and watch the 1 minute video for a more clear explanation of this resource.
A Workplace First-aid program states that sufficient supplies be readily accessible
Nothing beats a well-organized and maintained first aid kit that contains items that are easily and quickly identified. Messy, dirty, and overstuffed first aid kits do not promote first aid. Kits that are outdated and sparsely stocked waste time and potentially cause greater harm. Every first aid kit should be clean, organized, safe, and ready to use. OSHA recommends that an employer give a specific person the responsibility for choosing the types and amounts of first-aid supplies and for maintaining those supplies.
Workplace First-aid Restocking Methods
There are several online tools to help you manage, refill, and restock your first aid supplies. Each is designed to ensure OSHA and ANSI compliance. Here are 5 of the best refill systems available:
Make-A-Kit- Whether you want to simply create a checklist for easy reordering or literally build your own first aid kit from scratch, this is the tool for you.
RestockKit- The easiest refill system for workplace first aid kits begins with a picture. This visual refill system lets you "click on the picture" of a first aid kit to select the items you need. You need to see it to believe how easy it is.
Refill This Kit - Find any of our existing first aid kits on our website, click on the "refill this kit" link, and simply order the items you need.
Reorder List- Create a saved list of the items you will be reordering. This is our version of a wish list.
Complete Refill Packs- Many of our first aid kits have a complete refill pack ready to go. Take a look at the current first aid refills that are available to order.
If you need help or have questions about how to refill your supplies, give us a call at 800-221-9222 or connect with us on chat here on our website.
When a person's heart begins to beat in an uncoordinated manner, nothing can help except an electrical shock to bring the heart back into normal rhythm. This event is called Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) and it happens to about a quarter of a million people every year. Workplace electrocution, low oxygen, overexertion, and other factors can trigger SCA. OSHA says that "All worksites are potential candidates for AED programs.." In our five-part series on workplace first-aid, this third article talks about AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) and their role in the workplace. (Image credit goes to Zoll Inc. )
Survival from SCA is reduced by 7-10 percent for every minute without immediate CPR or defibrillation.
The normal heart rate, if treated promptly is restored about 60% of the time.
EMS can take up to 20 minutes for help to arrive and by that time, without an AED the chances of survival are slim.
Why your workplace first aid program should include an AED
We have included 4 good reasons why your workplace first aid program should include an AED.
SCA occurs anywhere, including on the job.
Onsite AEDs increase survival rates because they can be used before EMS arrives.
Only an AED can restore normal heart rhythm
They are lightweight, compact and easy to use
Where to place an AED in the workplace
OSHA recommends the AED to be conveniently located, allowing a response time within 3-5 minutes. Don't put it in a corner far away from people. Centrally located the AED for shorter response times.
Near an area where there are confined spaces or electric-powered devices
Outdoor worksites or events where lightening may occur
Fitness centers, exercise facilities, or other types of health units
Cafeterias or other places where people congregate
Remote sites where there is limited access to emergency response
Training is an important part of a workplace first aid AED program
Recognizing an SCA event and notifying Emergency Response Personnel is one of several elements of a comprehensive AED training program. Workers should also be trained to perform CPR, how to operate and deliver lifesaving defibrillation with an AED, and how to care for someone who has had SCA until the EMS personnel arrive.
OSHA states that AEDs "have a proven track record of saving lives in public places as well as in the workplace. They can do the same for you and your employees. Please consider installing AEDs in your workplace." We would encourage you to go to the OSHA website to learn more about AEDs. You can also contact other reputable organizations who specialize in AEDs and comprehensive training programs such as the American Heart Association.
Getting clear advice about your workplace first aid program doesn't have to be difficult. OSHA has made it easy for all of us with their "Best Practices Guide: Fundamentals of a Workplace First-Aid Program". This 26-page guide offers great advice for a complete, well-rounded first aid program. When it comes to first aid supplies, OSHA gets right to the point and makes 9 great suggestions that are specific to first aid supplies. We've summarized these for quick reading but if you want to see the entire guide, you can get it here.
Give a specific employee the responsibility over the program and supplies
Don't let the first aid company make your decisions for you. OSHA advises that a specific person should choose the types and amounts of first aid supplies. They also advise this same person to maintain these supplies.
Supplies must be adequate for potential injuries
You know best the types of injuries that occur at work. Make sure you have enough supplies to cover the amount and types of injuries that can occur. Don't just stick to the ANSI first aid list, thoughtfully consider the potential needs when stocking supplies.
Supplies must be accessible
Be sure you stock your supplies where they are easily and quickly accessible
When there is an emergency, access to your supplies should be close and easy to get to. Your cabinet or emergency kit should be organized and ready to be used. A locked door or cabinet is
Consider an AED as part of your first aid supply response arsenal
When you review your supply list, keep sudden cardiac arrest in mind. Nothing in your first aid kit can provide the life-saving shock an automated external defibrillator (AED) provides. OSHA says, "considered an AED when selecting first-aid supplies and equipment".
The ANSI first aid list is minimum requirements
There is a lot of hype about the ANSI Z308.1-2015 minimum requirements list for workplace first aid kits. Keep in mind that this is a minimum starting point and a great template for a very basic first aid kit for small businesses.
Larger operations should offer more supplies
While the ANSI first aid list is a starting point, larger operations should look at important factors including the number of employees, how many kits are needed, additional quantities, and types of supplies based on potential injuries. Consider upgrading your first aid kit(s) based on your specific needs.
Use your OSHA 300 logs to identify injury types and the appropriate supplies
For those who are not sure what type of supplies they need, consider looking at your OSHA 300 log and OSHA 301 reports or other records to identify the first-aid supply needs of their worksite.
Talk to medical experts to assess needs
Don't rely on first aid services to determine what you need. Talk with a medical advisor that your workplace has a relationship with including a company doctor, nurse, or emergency clinic. Also, reach out to your local fire and rescue for advice.
Regularly Assess your program -
Don't just set up your workplace first aid program, plan periodic assessments to ensure the right quantity and types of supplies are available making sure they are available and ready to use.
Managing your workplace first aid supplies doesn't have to be difficult. Our website has some great articles and resources to help you restock and refill your supplies. We encourage you to look over them.
No workplace first aid program should be without a comprehensive training program. It isn't enough to hang a first aid kit on the wall and let everyone know it is there. If you're trying to figure out how to get a program started or improve the one you have, OSHA offers a guide to best practices of a workplace first aid program as a helpful resource. In this fourth article on workplace first aid, we focus on the basic elements of a comprehensive first-aid training program including teaching methods, being prepared, assessment, responding, and refresher courses.
Workplace First Aid Teaching Methods
Everyone learns best by hearing, seeing, and doing. Putting the knowledge and skills learned from a comprehensive first aid training program into practice is critical. Reading a book and taking a test does not address what it will be like in real life. Including knowledge and skills practice in training will ensure a well-rounded learning experience. Trainees should learn about acute injury and illness as well as the correct response through using visual aids and actually practice those newly learned skills with training partners. As always, a good course book and resource materials will help trainees retain information. Allowing ample time for training and discussion helps promote confidence for all participants. Training should not only emphasize skills training and confidence-building but also quick response to any first aid situation.
Being Prepared to Respond
Being ready to respond is one of the most important aspects of a comprehensive workplace first aid training program. Not only are we to find ways to prevent accidents from happening but when they do occur, we must be ready to act quickly. The workplace first aid program should include coordinating a response with the local EMS. They should know you are organized and prepared to respond while they are on their way. Keeping a current list of phone numbers for all local emergency response agencies available for everyone is important. Each first aid responder should also understand the legal aspects of giving care. Check with your state legislation's Good Samaritan Law which deals with the liability issues that may be of concern. Training to respond also includes knowing the effects of stress, fear, and panic and how they affect response performance. Lastly, being prepared to respond includes understanding the importance of practicing universal precautions for all responses that deal with bodily fluids. This will help prepare the responder to be an effective resource in case of a first aid emergency.
Assessing the scene & victim
Workplace first aid training should teach the responder to be aware of the safety hazards in the environment where the accident has occurred. Running into a place where live electrical wires or other life-threatening hazards still exist will only cause more injuries. Determining how many are injured and who needs care first are all part of assessment. Calling for help and notifying emergency authorities is also included as part of a proper emergency response training procedure. Assessment continues to take place throughout the emergency response. The responder is constantly monitoring the environment to determine whether to move the victim to a safer area, preventing additional injuries.
Responding to Emergencies
A comprehensive first aid training program should be designed to address the needs of that specific worksite. Further training may be needed if or when changes are made to work processes or the environment. Responding to victims always includes calling for help, checking for responsiveness, maintaining an open airway, performing CPR if necessary, using an AED, recognizing signs of shock, monitoring changes in responsiveness, controlling bleeding, and watching for other medical complications including stroke, heart attack, pain, impaled objects, pregnancy complications, seizures and more. This is where professional training from a reputable organization is valuable.
Refresher Courses to maintain skills and knowledge
Workplace first aid training will only remain effective when there are regular refresher courses offered. Annual certification and regular skill and drill runs are recommended. With the support of all workers and management, first aid training adds another layer of health and safety to the workplace.