Every workplace should have at least one staff member with proper first aid training and a fully-stocked first aid kit. When a medical emergency occurs, treating various types of injuries quickly and effectively can be invaluable. That's why it's essential to have a workplace emergency plan that includes a designated first aider who will provide temporary emergency assistance while waiting for the arrival of emergency medical services.
Workplace First Aid training
First aid training for employees is becoming more common as businesses prioritize workplace safety. Certified first aid employees can handle minor injuries and emergencies, which helps businesses meet their legal obligations. Providing first aid training is a great way to ensure your employees are safe and prepared for anything.
If your company has yet to address its first aid kit, it is time to refresh and restock. Many small businesses may not be aware that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all smaller workplaces and sites to have a well-stocked, easily accessible first-aid kit for all employees. They have layout general industry employer responsibilities and first aid guidelines in their standard. For companies in the construction industry, marine, shipyard, and industries with high-risk environments, there's a specific legal first aid kit requirements set by OSHA.
Necessary Items That Should Be in a Workplace First Aid Kit
Having a few well-stocked First aid supplies on hand is not an expensive addition to your company. Pre-purchased first aid kit content is usually less pricey and time-consuming. At the minimum, they should include the following first aid items:
- A box of adhesive bandages
- Triangular bandages
- Sterile gauze pads in assorted sizes, including trauma pads and triangular bandages.
- Hydrogen Peroxide and alcohol pads for wound cleaning
- Common types of tweezers
- Adhesive Cloth Tape- Adhesive Tape
- Tensor bandages
- Package gauze roller bandage
- Foil blanket or emergency blanket
- Latex Gloves
- Protective equipment like a pocket mask and other breathing barrier devices
- Antiseptic wipes
- Burn dressing
It's also a good idea to include information about your local office, including written directions for obtaining emergency services, who in the office holds first aid training, the location of the Automated External Defibrillator, etc. Many commercially available kits offer additional items than what's listed above, and some even provide specialized components that meet the needs of common injuries, like chemical exposure, burns, etc.
These items were chosen based upon a review of increased workplace injury requiring first aid treatment, similar international standards, minimum requirements for workplace first aid kits, and current practices in treating different types of workplace injuries such as:
- Major wounds
- Minor wounds
- Minor burns
- Eye Injuries
- Sprains and strains
- Minor and life-threatening external bleeding
How to Utilize Workplace First Aid Kit?
An important step is having a stocked kit on hand. The kit you maintain for your company should not be placed in a later forgotten spot until an emergency arises. They must also be checked periodically to ensure no supplies have been depleted and properly managed. Here are a few good tips for managing your on-site First aid kit.
- Store the first aid kit in a safe area. Avoid being exposed to heat, cold, or other potential hazards. You can make a first aid cabinet in your office break room away from windows and food storage.
- Ensure it's accessible and that your staff with valid first aid training know its location and supplies. Some suggestions for alternate locations include near the company water fountain, near the entrance door, or beside a common area such as the lunch room.
- Appoint one of your first-aid trained staff to manage the workplace first aid kit and check its supplies monthly.
- You can consider additional supplies, such as pain pills and medicines for treating allergic reactions, but inform employees of the risks of using these products upon hire.
Workplace Emergency Medical Plan
Having a well-thought-out emergency medical plan and preparedness program should also be paramount on your list. Employers should provide all office personnel training specific to first aid emergencies in the workplace environment, so they can adequately respond to them when needed. This can include simply attending to minor workplace incidents to more serious problems, including administering CPR.
Take into account specific needs for your area and the types of workplace accidents you could potentially be exposed to. For example, those in hot desert areas would require anti-venom serum on hand, whereas an office in NYC dealing with chemicals would need eyewash stations, etc.
The most effective way to keep employees safe is by conducting regular safety reviews, training new employees on the location, using emergency kits on hand, and maintaining the first aid kit at all times. A safe office is a prepared office!