Resuscitating your first aid program

Date Posted: 03/09/2020
First Aid

If you have responders designated to provide first aid in the event of a workplace injury, they’ll need proper training and they’ll need access to supplies necessary to handle likely injuries.

A workplace first aid provider is someone trained to respond until emergency medical service (EMS) personnel arrive. Instructor-led training for life-threatening emergencies should occur at least annually, and retraining for non-life-threatening responses should occur periodically.

Responders may be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) skills. Studies have shown a retention rate of 6-12 months for these skills, so the American Heart Association’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee encourages skills review and practice sessions at least every six months for CPR and AED skills.

Adequate supplies

OSHA’s regulation at 1910.151 simply refers to “adequate” first aid supplies, but the non-mandatory appendix references American National Standard (ANSI) Z308.1-1998 Minimum Requirements for Workplace First-aid Kits. These supplies should be adequate for small worksites, but employers will need to evaluate the need for additional quantity or types of supplies at larger operations.

Eye wash and drenching facilities

Although employers commonly focus on first aid kits to ensure that adequate supplies are available, paragraph (c) is a commonly cited violation. That provision requires suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body.

Potential reasons for these citations include failure to provide eye wash facilities where corrosives are used, failure to provide a system with sufficient flow rate, and/or failure to ensure that the facilities are readily accessible to employees who might need them.

Periodic review

First-aid programs should be reviewed periodically to determine whether they continue to address the needs of the workplace. This means training, supplies, equipment, and policies should be reviewed and modified to account for changes in hazards, workstation locations, and worker schedules since the last program review. Further, the first aid training program should be kept up-to-date with current techniques and knowledge.

Review the location of first-aid supplies, how to contact a company first responder, the location of emergency numbers, and the company emergency action plan. Also, review the company policy on medical transportation. Obtain estimates of EMS response times during any portion of the day or night when you have workers on duty, and use that information when planning your program. Consulting with the local fire and rescue or emergency medical professionals may be helpful for response time information and other program issues.

How Safety Management Suite Can Help

Our experts get a lot of questions on first aid kits and eye wash stations. If you’ve got questions on first aid (or questions regarding any of the hundreds of topics in J. J. Keller® SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE, you can ask them using our Expert Help feature. Our experts research the regulations and guidance, and will respond within one business day.

E-mail Newsletter

Sign up to receive the weekly EHS Insider email newsletter for safety articles, news headlines, regulatory alerts, industry events, webcasts, and more.