Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fundamentals of a Workplace First Aid Program: First Aid Supplies & AEDs

First Aid Supplies

It is advisable for the employer to give a specific person the responsibility for choosing the types and amounts of first-aid supplies and for maintaining these supplies. The supplies must be adequate, should reflect the kinds of injuries that occur, and must be stored in an area where they are readily available for emergency access. An
automated external defibrillator (AED) should be considered when selecting first-aid supplies and equipment.
A specific example of the minimal contents of a workplace firstaid kit is described in American National Standards Institute ANSI Z308.1 - 2003, Minimum Requirements for Workplace First Aid Kits. The kits described are suitable for small businesses. For large operations, employers should determine how many first-aid kits are needed, and if it is appropriate to augment the kits with additional first-aid equipment and supplies. Employers who have unique or changing first-aid needs should consider upgrading their first-aid kits. The employer can use the OSHA 300 log, OSHA 301 reports or other records to identify the first-aid supply needs of their worksite. Consultation with the local fire and rescue service or emergency medical professionals may be beneficial. By assessing the specific needs of their workplaces, employers can ensure the availability of adequate first-aid supplies. Employers should periodically reassess the demand for these supplies and adjust their inventories.

Automated External Defibrillators

With recent advances in technology, automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are now widely available, safe, effective, portable, and easy to use. They provide the critical and necessary treatment for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) caused by ventricular fibrillation, the uncoordinated beating of the heart leading to collapse and death. Using AEDs as soon as possible after sudden cardiac arrest, within 3-4 minutes, can lead to a 60% survival rate.3 CPR is of value because it supports the circulation and ventilation of the victim until an electric shock delivered by an AED can restore the fibrillating heart to normal. All worksites are potential candidates for AED programs because of the possibility of SCA and the need for timely defibrillation. Each workplace should assess its own requirements for an AED program as part of its first-aid response. A number of issues should be considered in setting up a worksite AED program: physician oversight; compliance with local, state and federal regulations; coordination with local EMS; a quality assurance program; and a periodic review, among others. The OSHA website at www.osha.gov or the websites of the American College of Occupational and  Environmental Medicine at www.acoem.org, the American Heart Association at www.americanheart. org, the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org, Federal Occupational Health at www.foh.dhhs.gov, and the National Center for Early Defibrillation at www.early-defib.org can provide additional information about AED program development.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Safety Showers: Which ANSI standard does OSHA enforce?

Dear Mr. King:

Thank you for your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). You requested an interpretation of 29 CFR 1910.151, Medical Services and First Aid, specifically, section (c) regarding, "suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body." Your question has been restated below for clarity. Please accept our apology for the delay in this response.

Background: Your company, a large manufacturer and distributor of sulfuric acid, requires the services of many third party terminals and distributors to assist with the handling of your product. You have specific criteria when acquiring a new terminal that it must meet before a contract is signed. One of these requirements is the need for safety showers that meet or exceed OSHA requirements; OSHA has quoted ANSI Z358.1-1990 in several letters of interpretation. However, there is a new ANSI Z358.1-1998 standard that goes into much more detail and would require some facilities to make a significant capital expenditure to comply.

Question: Which ANSI standard does OSHA enforce?

Answer: ANSI standards become mandatory OSHA standards only when, and if, they are adopted by OSHA; ANSI Z358.1 was not adopted by OSHA. In comparison with the OSHA standard at 29 CFR 1910.151(c), however, ANSI Z358.1 provides detailed information regarding the installation and operation of emergency eyewash andshower equipment. OSHA, therefore, has often referred employers to ANSI Z358.1 as a recognized source of guidance for protecting employees who are exposed to injurious corrosive materials.

OSHA would also take the ANSI standard into consideration when evaluating the adequacy of the protection provided by an employer. OSHA recognizes that there are differences between the 1990 and 1998 versions of ANSI Z358.1, and is planning to develop a compliance directive addressing this issue to ensure uniform and consistent enforcement of 29 CFR 1910.151(c). In the meantime, employers should assess the specific conditions in the workplace and determine whether compliance with the 1998 version of the ANSI Z358.1 will provide protection for employees that compliance with the 1990 version would not.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact the [Office of General Industry Enforcement] at (202) 693-1850.

Sincerely,


John L. Henshaw
Assistant Secretary