What’s in your workplace first aid cabinets?
Expired bandages? Tampered eyewash solution? Missing mouth barrier?
Having unexpired and in-stock supplies at your facility is critical to employee safety.
When evaluating your first aid cabinet needs, be sure to address the five major areas of first aid. You should also be familiar with ANSI and OSHA standards.
This article provides a comprehensive checklist of what to include in your First Aid cabinets and kits.
Jump ahead to a section by clicking on a button below.
To get started, let’s look at the five major areas of first aid with a few examples.
When assembling your first aid cabinets and kits, be sure to address each of these first aid categories.
In very simple terms, ANSI sets the standard while OSHA enforces the standard for workplace first aid compliance.
According to OSHA, ANSI standards become mandatory OSHA standards only when, and if, they are adopted by OSHA. While OSHA often refers employers to ANSI Z308.1 as a source of guidance for the minimum requirements for first aid kits, they have not yet adopted the standard.
Let’s take a closer look at both OSHA and ANSI.
OSHA does not require specific first aid kits for general industry, but states in 29 CFR 1910.151(b), “Adequate first aid supplies shall be readily available.”
All industries are required to comply with OSHA 29 CFR 1910.151 regardless of the type of work performed by employees; however, the hazards and related first aid required would be different for offices (low-risk environment) than, for example, steel mills (high-risk environment).
In other words, your first aid program must correspond to the hazards which can be reasonably expected to occur in the workplace. Thus, you should evaluate the potential work-related hazards and provide for first aid accordingly.
Below are some OSHA First Aid best practices:
ANSI (The American National Standard Institute) provides a list of non-mandatory minimum requirements for workplace first aid kits. ANSI Z308.1 contains detailed information regarding the type and quantity of first aid supplies needed for most types of injuries and sudden illnesses encountered in the workplace including major wounds, minor wounds (cuts and abrasions), minor burns, sprains and strains, and eye injuries.
ANSI was last updated on June 17, 2015.
The list of recommended first aid supplies in the most recently updated 2015 ANSI standard were chosen based on a review of increased workplace incidents requiring first aid treatment, similar international standards, and current practices in treating injuries.
The ANSI lists are divided into two categories – Class A and Class B.
In deciding which class is more appropriate for your workplace, you should consider the following
Class A is recommended for common workplace injuries, such as minor cuts, abrasions, and sprains. Typical industries include an office, warehouse, light assembly or packaging.
While we list the recommended quantities below, it’s important to note that ITU AbsorbTech’s First Aid service will stock more than the recommended quantities.
Let’s say the requirement is to have 1 eye wash solution in your cabinet. Eventually, the eyewash solution will get used (or perhaps tampered with). The incident may or may not be reported.
The moment the eyewash solution gets used, you are in non-compliance with your cabinet.
Therefore, unless you plan to monitor your cabinets on a daily basis, you should stock your cabinets with an adequate supply above the required amount so that if an item is used, you are still in compliance until restocking occurs.
Class B is recommended for more complex injuries or high-risk environments. Typical
industries include industrial manufacturing, welding, woodworking, fabrication or printers.
The same caution about quantities (explained above) also applies to Class B cabinets. Unless you plan to monitor your cabinets on a daily basis, you should stock your cabinets with an adequate supply above the required amount so that if an item is used, you are still in compliance until restocking occurs.
ANSI also recommends these additional supplies:
While the contents of the first aid kit listed in ANSI Z308.1 may be adequate for most worksites, larger operations and high-risk industries should consider additional first aid kits, additional types of first aid equipment, and first aid supplies in larger quantities.
You may wish to consult your local fire and rescue department, an appropriate medical professional, your local OSHA area office, or a first aid supplier like ITU AbsorbTech First Aid, for assistance in putting together a first aid kit which suits the needs of your workplace.
The purpose of the OSHA and ANSI standards is to assure that adequate first aid is available in the critical minutes between the occurrence of an injury and the availability of physician or hospital care for the injured employee.
The term “readily available” is not defined in the OSHA standard. However, responding in a timely manner can mean the difference between life and death. Therefore, the person who has been trained to render first aid must be able to quickly access the first aid supplies in order to effectively provide injured or ill employees with first aid attention.
The first aid supplies should be installed in an easily accessible area, and the first aid provider generally should not have to travel through several doorways, hallways and/or stairways to access first aid supplies.
Beyond general first aid kits and cabinets, you may want to consider these specialty kits for your worksite, if appropriate.
OSHA recommends, but does not require, that every workplace include one or more employees who are trained and certified in first aid, including CPR.
First-aid courses should be individualized to the needs of the workplace. First-aid training should be repeated periodically to maintain and update knowledge and skills. Outdated training and reference materials should be replaced or removed.
You should periodically assess your cabinets and increase your supplies as need
ed. OSHA recommends that you give a specific person the responsibility for maintaining your first aid supplies. While OSHA does not state how often to inspect your supplies they do recommend the following:
We recommend that you inspect your cabinets at least monthly, but this depends on your risk environment and typical usage. In some cases, every other week and weekly make more sense. Cabinets should also be inspected any time a workplace injury has occurred. You should check for expired products, tampered products, and products that are missing or low in stock.
A First Aid Service Management Company like ITU AbsorbTech First Aid offers a solution to OSHA’s recommendation of having a knowledgeable person assess the risks of your workplace, design an appropriate first aid program, manage first aid supplies on a regular basis, ensure supplies are readily available, and review the program periodically to determine if it continues to address the needs of the specific workplace.
ITU AbsorbTech First Aid uses the following proven approach to help customers achieve a safe work environment and greater productivity protection:
– to ensure proper implementation and maintenance of the customer’s approved first aid and safety program.
Contact us to learn more about our simple pricing and transparent service.