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According to the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “employers are required to provide medical and first aid personnel and supplies commensurate with the hazards of the workplace.” But what does that really mean?
First aid kits in the workplace are a government requirement. Lack of OSHA compliance means potential financial losses in fines. Individuals may even be jailed. Employers should also be careful to have the right supplies, and the right amount of supplies, in these kits.
To find out more about this mandatory standard, check out the guide below.
How Are Standards Created?
These minimum requirements for first aid kits in the workplace come from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). This organization is responsible for creating standards throughout many industries in the United States.
While ANSI sets the standard, OSHA enforces it. OSHA is the organization where businesses report their compliance and suffer consequences for any noncompliance.
There is confusion around this requirement because OSHA has not specifically adopted the ANSI standard, but OSHA does have specific language requiring first aid kits in the workplace. The administration points to the ANSI standard when businesses ask for specifics.
Types of First Aid
Different industries may need different types of First aid kits in the workplace. These supplies generally fall into one of 5 categories:
- Major injury
- Minor injury
- Eye injury
- Burn injury
These supplies include things like tourniquets, bandages, eye solutions, burn dressings and pain relievers.
The Supplies Needed
ANSI has a detailed list of first aid kit contents, separated into Class A and Class B.
Class A kits are for less dangerous environments and only address common injuries. The supplies include:
- Breathing barrier
- Burn to dress
- Burn treatment
- Cold pack
- Eye covering
- Hand sanitizer
- Pads (sterile and trauma)
- Bandages (adhesive, roller, triangular)
- A first aid guide
These supplies fall into the minor injury, eye injury, burn injury, and employee comfort categories. However, they don’t really address major injuries. That is what Class B kits are for. Class B is needed in more dangerous workplaces.
Class B includes all of these supplies with some additions like tourniquets and splints. They also have these supplies in much higher quantities.
Amount of Supplies
It is wise to pack more than one unit of each of these first aid supplies. If there is only one unit, the moment it is gone, the first aid kit is no longer in compliance.
The best way to keep track of first aid supplies is to appoint a safety officer in the workplace. They should draw up a detailed inventory of the supplies that they check regularly. They need to proactively order first aid kit refills well before the supplies run out.
Providing First Aid Kits in the Workplace
First aid kits in the workplace are an OSHA requirement, but the language is vague. The ANSI standard is the best answer employers have for the specifics of what should be included in the kit. Additionally, ANSI did not intend for employers to compose their own kits, but to purchase professional-grade products.
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