Friday, December 26, 2008

OSHA Required First Aid Kits

Many people contact us at National Safety Compliance and inquire about what items are needed in their workplace first aid kit or first aid cabinet. This common question is vaguely answered by the OSHA regulations.

The OSHA regulations state in 29 CFR 1910.151

"In the absence of an infirmary, clinic, or hospital in near proximity to the workplace which is used for the treatment of all injured employees, a person or persons shall be adequately trained to render first aid. Adequate first aid supplies shall be readily available."

The OSHA regulations give the employer the responsibility for determining "adequate." National Safety Compliance recommends that each workplace review previous injuries and determine what first aid supplies were needed. The employer should then purchase a first aid kit or first aid cabinet to meet those needs. More than one kit may be needed at each workplace. When determining first aid kit needs, employers should also consider vehicles and remote worksites.

"Where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use."

OSHA requires eye wash stations or emergency showers be available where employees are exposed to corrosive chemicals. Common corrosives include batteries, cleaning supplies and manufacturing chemicals. Small bottles of eye wash are not adequate to meet the OSHA requirements. An eye wash station capable of flushing the eyes continuously for 15 minutes is required. Here is an example of an eye wash station.

1910.151 - Appendix A
"If it is reasonably anticipated that employees will be exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials while using first aid supplies, employers are required to provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) in compliance with the provisions of the Occupational Exposure to Blood borne Pathogens standard, § 1910.1030(d)(3) (56 FR 64175). This standard lists appropriate PPE for this type of exposure, such as gloves, gowns, face shields, masks, and eye protection. "

Most emergencies requiring first aid also expose employee to bloodborne pathogens. It is therefore important that employers also provide a bloodborne pathogens kit with their first aid kits. These kits provide the necessary PPE and clean-up items to safely deal with workplace bloodborne pathogens.

Employers are also responsible for refilling and maintaining their first aid kits, first aid cabinets, eye wash stations and bloodborne pathogens kits. Many of the items in the kits will expire, so periodic inspection is necessary. Complete first aid kit refills are also available.

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