Thursday, December 22, 2011

29 CFR 1910.269 CPR/First aid training and "working alone"

Question No. 1: Does the OSHA Standard above require, at all shifts, that an employee in a generating station be reached by another employee or a second person, trained in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid, within 4 minutes?

Reply: No, not in all circumstances. OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.269(b)(1)(ii) requires that for fixed work locations such as generating stations, the number of trained persons available shall be sufficient to ensure that each employee exposed to electric shock can be reached within 4 minutes by a trained person. However, where the existing number of employees is insufficient to meet this requirement (at a remote substation, for example), all employees at the work location shall be trained. In the rulemaking, OSHA clarified that this provision was required only for employees exposed to the hazards of electrical shock when they perform work on or associated with exposed lines or equipment energized at 50 volts or more. This does not pertain to employees working near insulated electrical equipment, as the exposure to electrical shock hazard is minimal.

Question No. 2: Does the OSHA Standard prohibit an employee from working alone in a generating station where emergency medical response service (EMRS) can not respond to a work-related accident within 4 minutes?

Reply: Yes, with respect to the working alone issue, OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.269 prohibits an employee from working alone if the duties of the employee in the hydroelectric dam generating station fall into one of the categories in paragraph 1910.269(l)(1)(i) and are not exempted by paragraph 1910.269(l)(1)(ii). The working alone issue is not dependent upon first aid/CPR response and the preceding reply addresses the 4 minute response time issue.

Question No. 3: In facilities, other than generating stations, where a hazard may or may not include electrical shock, do we permit "working alone" where EMRS can not respond within 4 minutes to an accident resulting in a critical injury, or within 15 minutes to an accident resulting in a serious non life-threatening injury?

Reply: In facilities other than Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution that fall outside of the scope of OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.269, there is no general OSHA Standard that deals with the situation of an employee "working alone" except in specific situations such as emergency response, interior structural firefighting, or working in permit required confined spaces. Again, the working alone requirement is not dependent on medical treatment response time.

In summary, an employee must be accompanied by another employee if the duties of the night shift operator in the hydroelectric dam station fall into one of the categories in paragraph 1910.269(l)(1)(i) and are not exempted by paragraph 1910.269(l)(1)(ii). The CPR and first aid provisions, contained in paragraph 1910.269(b)(1) are dependent upon the type of electrical work performed by employee(s) and not the working alone issue. If an employee could be expected to be exposed to electric shock (at or beyond the 50 volt threshold hazard limit) in the course of performing his or her duties, then these requirements for field work and fixed work locations apply. In all general industry work situations, the medical services and first aid requirements set forth in paragraph[s] 1910.151[(b) and 1910.151(c)] apply. That existing section includes provisions for available medical personnel, first aid training and supplies and facilities for drenching or flushing of the eyes and body in the event of exposure to corrosive materials.

For additional information please visit the following Free Information on First Aid.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

1910.151(b) Interpretation of the OSHA First Aid Standard.

Question 1: "Must an employer have individuals trained to render first aid?"

Answer: [No.] The OSHA requirement at 29 CFR 1910.151(b) states, "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] [f]irst aid supplies approved by the consulting physician shall be readily available." [emphasis added]
[This document was edited on 8/19/1999 to strike information that no longer reflects OSHA policy.]

OSHA's regulation does not set specific response time requirements for the term "near proximity", however, in areas where accidents resulting in suffocation, severe bleeding, or other life-threatening or permanently disabling injury or illness are likely, a 3 to 4 minute response time, from time of injury to time of administering first aid, is required. In other circumstances, i.e., where a life-threatening or permanently disabling injury is an unlikely outcome of an accident, a longer response time, such as 15 minutes, is acceptable. The rationale for requiring a 4 minute response time is brain death when the heart or breathing has stopped for that period of time.
[This letter was edited on 6/12/2002 to strike information that no longer reflects current OSHA policy. Please see the
1/16/2007 letter to Mr. Brogan for the current policy.]
Question 2: "If an emergency situation were to occur where first aid was necessary and a trained employee were to panic, forgetting all of their training, and no first aid or improper first aid was administered could the employer be cited?"

Answer: If a trained employee were to panic in an emergency situation and not administer first aid or administer improper first aid, OSHA would not cite the employer. The employer would have met his obligation under the standard by having individuals trained to render first aid. The standard only requires employees to be trained in first aid, but does not address the actual performance of first aid in an emergency situation. Please note, however, that OSHA would conduct an investigation, if deemed necessary, to ensure that proper training certification, e.g., First Aid and CPR certificates were in order.

Question 3: "Would an employer be in violation of OSHA's First Aid standard if the employer were to issue a policy which recommends that employees call "911" in emergency situations?"

Answer: The purpose of first aid is to give injured employees some level of medical attention as quickly as possible to bridge the gap between the accident and full medical treatment. Therefore, the rendering of first aid should be encouraged by trained employees in addition to calling "911." Thus, an employer would not be in violation of OSHA's First Aid standard by issuing such a policy statement as long as the policy does not discourage the rendering of first aid by trained employees.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Is employee first aid/CPR training required when a fire department is within 4 minutes of workplace?

Scenario: The facility, a clinical laboratory, is located an average of four minutes away from a fire department that provides first aid assistance.

Question 1: Would it be acceptable under 29 CFR 1910.151(b) in Subpart K, "Medical and First Aid," for the facility to rely on the fire department and avoid having employees trained in first aid to address emergency situations on site?

Response 1: The OSHA standard at 29 CFR 1910.151(b) states: "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 . . . ." The primary requirement addressed by this standard is that an employer must ensure prompt first aid for injured employees, either by providing for the availability of a trained first aid provider at the worksite, or by ensuring that emergency treatment services are within reasonable proximity to the worksite. The basic purpose of this standard is to assure that adequate first aid is available in the critical minutes between the occurrence of an injury and the availability of physician or hospital care for the injured employee.

One option this standard provides employers is to ensure that a member of the workforce has been trained in first aid. This option is, for most employers, a feasible and low-cost way to protect employees, as well as putting the employer in compliance with the standard. The other option for employers is to rely upon the reasonable proximity of an infirmary, clinic, or hospital. OSHA has consistently taken the view that the reasonable availability of a trained emergency service provider, such as fire department paramedics or EMS responders, would be equivalent to the "infirmary, clinic, or hospital" specified by the literal wording of the standard. Emergency medical services can be provided either onsite or by evacuating the employee to an off-site facility in cases where that can be done safely.

An employer who contemplates relying on assistance from outside emergency responders as an alternative to providing a first-aid trained employee must take a number of factors into account. The employer must take appropriate steps prior to any accident (such as making arrangements with the service provider) to ascertain that emergency medical assistance will be promptly available when an injury occurs. While the standard does not prescribe a number of minutes, OSHA has long interpreted the term "near proximity" to mean that emergency care must be available within no more than 3-4 minutes from the workplace. This interpretation generally has been upheld by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, an independent tribunal that decides OSHA cases, and by federal courts.

Medical literature establishes that for serious injuries, such as those involving stopped breathing, cardiac arrest, or uncontrolled bleeding, first aid treatment must be provided within the first few minutes to avoid permanent medical impairment or death. Accordingly, in workplaces where serious accidents, such as those involving falls, suffocation, electrocution, or amputation are possible, emergency medical services must be available within 3-4 minutes if there is no employee on the site who is trained to render first aid. Since your facility is an average of 4 minutes from the fire department and thus possibly more than 4 minutes away from the fire station in reality, you may not rely on its emergency service providers to fulfill your obligation under the standard if such serious injuries are possible at your workplace. As a matter of enforcement discretion, OSHA recognizes that a somewhat longer response time of up to 15 minutes may be reasonable in workplaces, such as offices, where the possibility of such serious work-related injuries is more remote. If that is the case in your workplace, you are allowed to rely on the fire department, which is an average of 4 minutes away from your workplace.

After this Letter of Interpretation is given, one thing is sure - if an emergency medical facility is not within 4 minutes of the workplace, first aid training and CPR training is a must for at least 1 employee per shift.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Emergency eyewash in areas where chemicals are irritants but not corrosive

"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." - 29 CFR 1910.151(c)

Question: Is there a requirement for an emergency eyewash in the immediate work area for anything other than injurious corrosive chemicals (including chemicals which the MSDS clearly indicates that the product is a severe irritant, but not corrosive to eyes or skin) under 1910.151(c)? Are there any other Federal OSHA regulations that would require provision of eye flushing facilities for use of chemicals other than corrosives?

Answer: No. OSHA's current policy regarding the requirements for providing an emergency eyewash and/or safety shower is explained in its letter of interpretation to Mr. Tom Heslin, May 5, 2004 (attached) as follows:
The OSHA requirements for emergency eyewashes and showers, found at 29 CFR 1910.151(c), specify that "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. As the standard states, an eyewash and/or safety shower would be required where an employee's eyes or body could be exposed to injurious corrosive materials. If none of the materials used in this work area is an injurious corrosive [chemical] (as indicated by the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each product), then an emergency eyewash or shower would not be required pursuant to 1910.151(c).

While not having the force of a regulation under the OSH Act, the current ANSI standard addressing emergency eyewash and shower equipment (ANSI [Z]358.1-2004) provides for eyewash and shower equipment in appropriate situations when employees are exposed to hazardous materials. ANSI's definition of "hazardous material" would include caustics, as well as additional substances and compounds that have the capability of producing adverse effects on the health and safety of humans. ANSI's standard also provides detail with respect to the location, installation, nature, and maintenance of eyewash and shower equipment. You also may wish to consult additional recognized references such as W. Morton Grant's Toxicology of the Eye (Charles C Thomas Pub. Ltd., 4th edition, August 1993) when considering potential chemical exposures to the eye and the appropriateness of installing eyewash facilities to protect employees against hazards associated with particular chemicals and substances.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

OSHA Required First Aid Kits & Training

In the OSHA regulations, Paragraph 1910.151(b) of OSHA's general industry standard on medical services and first aid states, "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 construction standard at 29 CFR 1926.50(c) has a similar requirement.

OSHA stated in a letter of interpretation dated January 16, 2007 to Mr. Charles F. Brogan: "The primary requirement addressed by these first aid standards is that an employer must ensure prompt first aid treatment for injured employees, either by providing for the availability of a trained first aid provider at the worksite, or by ensuring that emergency treatment services are within reasonable proximity of the worksite." The employer must ensure that ". . . adequate first aid is available in the critical minutes between the occurrence of an injury and the availability of physician or hospital care for the injured employee."

The letter further explains: "While the first standards do not prescribe a number of minutes, OSHA has long interpreted the term 'near proximity' to mean that emergency care must be available within no more than 3-4 minutes from the workplace. Medical literature establishes that, for serious injuries such as those involving stopped breathing, cardiac arrest, or uncontrolled bleeding, first aid treatment must be provided within the first few minutes to avoid permanent medical impairment or death. Accordingly, in workplaces where serious accidents such as those involving falls, suffocation, electrocution, or amputation are possible, emergency medical services must be available within 3-4 minutes, if there is no employee on the site who is trained to render first aid."

OSHA does exercise discretion in enforcing the first aid requirements in particular cases. For example, OSHA recognizes that in workplaces, such as offices, where the possibility of such serious work-related injuries is less likely, a longer response time of up to 15 minutes may be reasonable.

To obtain first aid kits or first aid cabinets that meet OSHA requirements, please visit the website of National Safety Compliance at: First Aid Kits & Cabinets

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Locked First Aid Kits or First Aid Cabinets

Question: May an employer lock first aid kits or cabinets, or lock the room containing first aid supplies?

Reply: Yes, first aid supplies can be locked; however, they must be readily accessible in the event of an emergency. Locking them may limit accessibility. OSHA regulations 29 CFR 1910.151(b) states: "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."

Employers may elect not to provide first aid services if all such services will be provided by a hospital, infirmary, or clinic in near proximity(3 minutes or less) to the workplace. If the employer has persons who are trained in first aid, then adequate first aid supplies must be readily available for use. These supplies need to be stored in a convenient area available for emergency access.

However, if OSHA found that an employer was relying on first aid services not provided by a clinic, infirmary, or hospital and adequate first aid supplies were not available when needed, then the employer would be in violation of 29 CFR 1910.151(b).