A basic first aid kit for a small to medium size work site needs more than just bandages. You can learn everything that’s needed through occupational health and safety courses, but here are some suggestions about what is essential for every first aid kit.
At bare minimum, every first aid kit should include things like:
- absorbent compress
- latex gloves
- sterile pads
- antiseptics in individual use packets
- adhesive bandages
- burn treatment
- triangle-shaped bandage
- additional bandage compresses in a variety of sizes
- eye patch
- eye wash
- chemical cold pack
- roller bandages
- CPR barrier device
Items in a first aid kit don’t last forever. So be sure to inspect it at least once a year. To help jog your memory, align that inspection with other annual inspections (for instance, each time you check the batteries in smoke detectors). Switch out expired items, add back in those that were used but not replaced, and insert new items to meet new potential hazards.
Where to Locate Kits
OSHA says that all kits “shall be readily available” while the American National Standards Institute, or ANSI, says the location of the kit needs to be visibly marked, making it easy to find. Make them conspicuous so there are no delays during an emergency.
If workers are located on several floors or in different locations entirely, each area needs its own first aid kit. Be sure to customize them for the type of work each team is doing, following recommendations covered in most occupational health and safety courses.
Kits for outdoor crews should be moisture proof, corrosion resistant, and able to withstand impact.
Making Your Kit Fit the Workplace
In order to make your kit useful, you need to figure out what types of injuries can conceivably happen on the work site. The best way to do this is by looking over incident reports or workers’ comp reports from the last year or two.
Ask professionals for advice, including the fire department, a nurse or doctor familiar with workplace injuries in your industry and the local 911 ambulance service. Check with other companies that do the same type of work your employees do. Trade associations often have helpful lists on their websites.
Do a hazard assessment by walking through the work area with an employee, supervisor or anyone actually doing the job at hand. This will help you anticipate the types and quantities of supplies needed.
It can be more convenient to simply buy kits from a medical supply store, but you will still need to be sure they have the proper items for your work groups. These stores usually offer the convenience of automatic restocking.
The American Heart Association, American Red Cross and National Safety Council all offer first aid training to employees. Those that complete a standard class get certificates in CPR and in basic first aid. They are taught how to respond quickly to an injury, how to protect themselves and how to perform adult cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR.
It makes sense to be ready for accidents. The quicker workers can respond to an injury, the less chance there is of serious and permanent damage.
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