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Workforce First Aid Blog

The Most Useful Tips For First Aid At Work

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Far too many businesses fail to realize the importance of first aid at work until it’s too late. Managers and owners often have so much to tend to that they don’t even think about first aid until there is a workplace injury or half of their staff is requesting to go home because of a headache or allergies. From the contents of your first aid cabinet to the process in place for a medical emergency, having a proper first aid program in place is critical for any business.

In general, “first aid at work” refers to the medical attention that is administered right after a workplace injury or medical situation occurs. First aid at work typically consists of single short-term treatments, like cleaning small cuts or abrasions, applying bandages, or using OTC medications. Furthermore, a proper employee first aid program specifies which processes will be implemented if any medical emergency arises on-site. There are many objectives for having a proper first aid program at work, including:

  1. Providing employees with the OTC medications that they need to reduce symptoms of common illnesses such as headaches, upset stomach, allergies and sinuses, and etc.
  2. Increasing workplace productivity by tending to small medical discomforts before they worsen to a point that the employee’s performance is affected.
  3. In more serious cases, to implement the most effective process to help an injured or ill employee until medical help arrives.

Putting together an effective first aid program at your job doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does need to be well thought-out; ensuring that every base is covered before a situation occurs. In the following post, we will explore the regulations behind workplace first aid and give you several expert first aid at work tips to help you develop the best program for your organization.

Federal First Aid At Work Requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) have both agreed that organizations have an important role in developing safety and health standards, and in providing their employees with basic first aid supplies. OSHA requires that employees are provided with a workplace that is sensibly free of safety and health hazards. However, even in the most ideal situation - workplace incidents, illnesses, and accidents are bound to happen occasionally.

Specific requirements differ amongst particular industries, but generally, employers are required to provide the type and quantity of first aid supplies that are proportionate to the hazards of their workplace and the size of their workforce.

OSHA and ANSI have these regulations in place to ensure that first aid treatment is rendered properly in the workplace. Employers are required to either have a trained first aid provider at the worksite, or to be within a reasonable proximity of an emergency treatment service:

  • On-site First Aider: Many employers choose to offer first aid training to a reliable member of their workforce. Organizations often find that this is a low-cost option to ensure that their employees receive the best care during a first aid situation. It is recommended by OSHA that every workplace includes at least one employee who is trained and certified in first aid, including CPR.
  • Proximity to Health Services: In the absence of a trained on-site first aider, OSHA requires that a business is within a reasonable distance to a health service provider such as a clinic or a hospital, fire department or paramedic center. By OSHA standards, emergency medical services can be rendered at the work site itself, or by promptly getting the individual to another facility where first aid service can be rendered safely.

In a non-serious situation, these standards are used to ensure that an employer’s first aid program provides the necessary items to help employees during mild illness or discomfort. During a more serious or emergency situation, these standards assure that first aid is available for an injured or ill employee before health services arrive to take over.

Tips for Assessing Your First Aid Needs

Employees expect their organization to have a plan in place to protect them during a medical situation or emergency. Before putting together a first aid program, critically assess the needs of your particular workplace. Consider what health or safety issues could arise, and decide what first aid supplies or procedures need to be in place to deal with those issues.

Smaller organizations with standard non-hazardous risk will likely only need to have a fully stocked first aid cabinet with an “appointed person” to oversee workplace first aid processes. This person does not need to have first-aid training, but will be responsible for keeping the cabinet stocked with the right supplies, and contacting emergency services if the need arises.

Higher-risk workplaces like a machine shop will likely need a first-aider on site who has been trained in dealing with first-aid medical situations.

Be realistic when assessing your needs. You can never be over prepared - according to Murphy’s law, the one situation that you forget to prepare for is often the one that you will eventually face.

What Do You Need In Your First Aid Cabinet?

Having a proper first aid cabinet is critical for tending to non-emergency medical situations at the workplace. First aid cabinets must be stocked with the right supplies, must be easily accessible, and must be in a location that is known to all employees. OSHA has requirements that state that first aid supplies should be made available to employees, while ANSI gives specific minimums of which first aid supplies need to be available.

After assessing your organization’s first aid needs, it is important to make sure that your first aid cabinet always remains stocked with necessary items. Before making a final selection, refer to the latest ANSI Z308.T revisions, which were introduced in June 2015. Furthermore, see our Quik-Pik Ordering guide for industry specific first aid cabinet stock recommendations.

Tips For Creating Your First Aid Program

The plan that your organization has in place for dealing with first aid is critically important. Small errors or oversights in your first aid program can have severe consequences when an employee is experiencing even a minor ailment. Having an understocked cabinet can be costly when employees go home because of a small illness, or are in too much discomfort to work productively. In an emergency situation, the steps taken to contact emergency services and render first aid could potentially be the difference between life and death. When developing your first aid program, consider the following questions:

  • What types of kits are required for your program? Depending on your industry and the size of your workforce, you may require one or more different types of first aid kits. For some businesses, a standard wall-mounted first aid kit will be sufficient. For other businesses, it may be necessary to also have one or more portable trauma or first responder kits.
  • Where will you place the kit where it is accessible and easily identifiable? Your first aid kit needs to be placed somewhere where it is easily accessible by the entire team. Furthermore, the cabinet should be clearly marked so that employees in need have no confusion as to where the kit is located.
  • Who will be responsible for rendering first aid in times of emergency, illness or injury? As previously mentioned, OSHA requires that your facility either be within a reasonable proximity to a health services facility, or that there be a trained first-aid provider on site. Consider which option is the best for your business; and if you choose to have someone on-site, make sure that the rest of the team is fully aware of who is responsible for tending to the organization’s first aid needs.
  • How will you train your employees about your first aid plan? It is imperative that your team knows what processes are in place for rendering first aid. Whether it’s knowing where to access aspirin or knowing the steps for handling a true medical emergency, the team needs to be educated and prepared. After finalizing the plans for your first aid program, have a meeting with your staff, pass out printed information, and ensure that everyone knows how the organization will deal with any medical circumstances.

Workplace First Aid In Action

Implementing these first aid at work tips will ensure that your organization is prepared for any situation - whether minor or at an emergency level. In a small standard workplace environment, a simple first aid cabinet could save you thousands each year in expenses or loss as a result of employee absenteeism. In a real medical emergency, a well-prepared first aid program could have a major impact during the time between the incident and the time in which medical help arrives.

No matter what industry your business serves or how large your workforce is, Workforce First Aid is here to serve your first aid supply needs! See our full selection of first aid cabinets and supplies! 

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