Remember These Tools and Tips to Create a Safer Workplace

First-aid kits and proper employee training are critical to minimizing the impact of injuries and potentially saving lives.

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Question: Our company has put a major focus on health and safety over the past year. One area of uncertainty concerns first-aid kits. Are there rules and regulations for first-aid kits? Do you have any other tips or suggestions for first-aid preparedness in general? 

Answer: First-aid training and first-aid kits are important parts of all safety programs. There are general guidelines concerning safety in the workplace, however, as with all questions concerning specific laws, consult your state and local government regulations for exact details.  

We will cover first-aid guidelines, training and then several industry-specific suggested components for first-aid kits kept at the office and on service vehicles.

Guidelines

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration — www.osha.gov) offers “Best Practices Guide: Fundamentals of a Workplace First Aid Program,” an excellent resource to download and to have as reference material for use in your company.

The introduction to this resource states that “this best practice guide is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations, nor does it change any existing OSHA standard or regulation. The guide is advisory in nature, informational content, and is intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.”

The primary OSHA requirement referenced in this guide is First Aid Standard (29 CFR 1910.151), which requires “trained first-aid providers at all workplaces of any size if there is no infirmary, clinic or hospital in near proximity to the workplace which is used for the treatment of all injured employees.”

While this standard is open to interpretation as to the determination of “near proximity to the workplace,” having first-aid-trained personnel is a sound safety practice that all PROs should consider.

Formal first-aid training

Many nationally recognized and other private educational groups offer training. Among the most popular organizations are the American Red Cross, the National Safety Council and the American Heart Association.    

Based on “best practices,” OSHA has several important and useful suggestions:

 “Hands-on” training is much more effective and beneficial than  either training videos or manuals.

 Annual renewal of training maintains skills and increases knowledge  of first-aid procedures and techniques.

 Suggested training should include performing CPR; wound treatment; burns; temperature extremes (frostbite, hypothermia, heat exhaustion and heat stroke); musculoskeletal injuries (sprains, cramps, contusions and fractures); eye, mouth, teeth injuries; and other (bites and stings). Another possible area of training is using an automated external defibrillator, or AED, which will be discussed later.        

Formal first-aid training is usually held in your community but, under certain conditions, the trainer can come to your company location. For example, the American Red Cross has a minimum of eight participants required for on-site group training. Again, depending on the policies and requirements of the training organization, certification ranges from six months to a year and then recertification is required.

Company-wide first-aid training

As safety and first aid are applicable to all employees, training for all employees is important and necessary. 

A major point of emphasis should be the location and use of a current list of emergency telephone numbers (police, ambulance, fire and poison control). This list should be posted in an easily accessible area of the office or facility. This list can also be included in the route service technician document notebook, if used by the company.  

Employees should also be trained in the use of Personal Protective Equipment that is required for their specific job function. Maintaining all PPE in good working order is also a necessity. 

Periodic safety meetings with all employees are encouraged. Many PROs will designate meetings to specifically address the use of personal first-aid kits used in the field. In addition, if the company has a trained first-aid contact, this person can also give demonstrations and emergency techniques to other employees.

First-aid kits in the office

Both the American National Standards Institute and the International Safety Equipment Association have developed the ANSI/ISEA Z308 1-2015 Minimum Requirements for Workplace First Aid Kits. This standard was summarized in the Jan. 1, 2017 edition of Industry Safety & Hygiene News sponsored by First Aid Only (www.FirstAidOnly.com).

This standard introduces two classes of first-aid kits: Class A, which has contents designed to deal with the most common types of workplace injuries; and Class B with a broader range of supplies for more complex or high-risk environments.

In addition to the two classes of kits, there are four types of containers:

1. Type I is used in stationary and indoor facilities where damage to the supplies from environmental factors and rough handling is minimal.

2. Type II is intended for portable use in outdoor settings where, again, potential damage from environmental factors or rough handling is minimal.

3. Type III is for use in either indoor or outdoor settings where environmental damage is not probable.

4. Type IV kits are for use in mobile industries and/or outdoor settings where damage to the kit supplies due to environmental factors and rough handling is significant.     

This ANSI/ISEA standard then lists the minimum quantities of first-aid supplies needed:

 Adhesive bandages

 Adhesive tape 

 Antibiotic application

 Antiseptic

 Breathing barrier

 Burn dressing

 Burn treatment

 Cold pack

 Eye covering with means of attachment

 Eye/skin wash

 First-Aid Guide

 Hand sanitizer

 Medical exam gloves

 Roller bandage

 Scissors

 Splint

 Sterile pad

 Tourniquet

 Trauma pad

 Triangular bandage     

Employers should also consider multiple first-aid kits might be needed depending on the number of employees and the physical layout of the work environment.

Another item for consideration in an office first-aid station is the AED as previously mentioned. These computerized portable devices check a person’s heart rhythm and advise a first responder if an electric shock is needed. CPR is not enough to save a person suffering from sudden cardiac arrest. CPR only keeps the oxygen flowing to the person’s brain where the AED restarts the heart. While formal training is needed and encouraged, employees who have been shown the basic use of the AED can successfully use this device if needed in an emergency. These devices can range from $900 to $2,500, but if the work location is some distance from emergency medical personnel, this potential lifesaving product is well worth the investment.

First-aid kits in the field

Best practices strongly suggest a small, one-person first-aid kit to be a requirement in all company vehicles. In addition, an eye-wash kit, and a small bottle of hydrogen peroxide for use on scrapes and cuts are beneficial in our industry. As we have discussed, training and frequent inspection of these portable kits are necessary to ensure an adequate supply of all items and that each component is in good, usable condition.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In this time of increased emphasis on health and safety, please do not overlook first-aid training and first-aid kits for potential use by all employees, both at the office and in the field. Stay safe! 



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