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Fundamentals of Workplace First Aid

First aid generally refers to medical attention administered immediately after an injury occurs and at the location where it occurred. It often consists of a one-time, short-term treatment and requires little technology or training to administer. OSHA requires that employers ensure medical personnel are either readily available for advice and consultation or that persons trained in first aid (with first-aid supplies) be available. Unless the employer maintains an onsite clinic for injured workers, first-aid supplies must be available onsite.

First aid can cover a variety of actions, such as bandages and wound coverings, over-the-counter painkillers, ice or eye washing/irrigation. With so many actions potentially considered first aid, OSHA does not have strict requirements on what first-aid items should be available onsite. However, as with many other standards, OSHA requires employers to conduct a hazard assessment and evaluate their first-aid response based on the needs of the workplace and its workers. Most contractors rely on emergency medical services for serious injuries and first aid for lesser injuries.

ANSI Recommendations for Workplace First-Aid Kits and Supplies

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) makes numerous standards available related to workplace safety in its directory of safety standards, including the recently updated ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2015, Workplace First Aid Kits and Supplies, which introduces two classes of first-aid kits. The Class A kits include items designed for the most common types of workplace injuries, while Class B kits include a broader range and quantity of supplies to deal with injuries in more complex or high-risk environments. The chart below shows ANSI the minimum items ANSI recommends be included in both Class A and Class B kits.

First-Aid Kit Contents & Storage

First-aid supplies must be available in adequate quantities and be readily accessible. The minimum contents of the first-aid kit should be based on the hazards faced by workers on the jobsite. The contents must be:

  • Placed in a weatherproof container with individual sealed packages for each type of item.
  • Checked by the employer before being sent out to each job and checked weekly to ensure any items used are replaced.
  • Located in known areas that are easily accessible by workers.

First Aid Training

First-aid training courses should include instruction in general and workplace hazard-specific knowledge and skills. CPR training should incorporate automated external defibrillator (AED) training if an AED is available at the worksite. First-aid training should be repeated periodically to maintain and update worker knowledge and skills. Management commitment and worker involvement is vital in developing, implementing and assessing a workplace first-aid program.

LIUNA signatory contractors and affiliates can order the Fund’s First Aid toolbox talk through our online Publications Catalogue. For more information about choosing the proper first-aid kit for your worksite, contact the Fund’s Occupational Safety & Health Division at 202-628-5465.

[Walter Jones is the LHSFNA’s Director of Occupational Safety & Health.]

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