First, let’s understand the key first aid regulations and recommendations:
OSHA states: 1910.151(a) The employer shall ensure the ready availability of medical personnel for advice and consultation on matters of plant health. 1910.151(b) 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. 1910.151(b) is very clear on the topic of training. You should ensure that you have personnel trained in first aid, and that these people are provided PPE to use when treating an injured worker.
Given that the word “adequate” is rather vague, many companies enlist the services of a physician to recommend what items they should have on hand. Also, many states have their own occupational health and safety administration, and have more specific first aid requirements then the Federal OSHA standard. There are some specific requirements for certain industries like logging, shipyards, and mining.
The ANSI guidelines give definition to the OSHA guideline and recommend minimum standards for both the container of first aid kit and the contents. Keep in mind that OSHA is an enforceable guideline and the ANSI standard is voluntary, however, many companies and government organizations will use the ANSI standard as a starting point for their first aid program.
Unsubstantiated industry standards tend to associate the number of people with the proper first aid kit. While this is a very rough guideline, first aid kits with the number of people listed on them vary greatly in contents. Is the same “25 person kit” adequate for 25 people in a heavy construction environment, an office environment, or a warehouse environment. Of course not. A better way to select a first aid kit is to first get the surpervising or company physician, in concert with the safety professional at your company to determine the injuries possible at your location. A local distributor carrying safety products can also be of assistance by performing a site survey.
The following questions should be answered in your evaluation and survey:
How large is the facility?
How many people?
What is the response time to the first aid supplies or said differently, how far is The first aid cabinet from employees(easy access for all?)?
Types of injuries that may occur
Consider all components of a facility including; break rooms, vehicles, guard stations, production floors. These all have different needs.
First aid replenishment/reordering
Response time for the local EMS
Who needs to be trained
Who is trained to provide treatment?
When scanning the market, you will see many varieties of kits. The signs of a quality kit are very visible and clear graphics, bilingual packaging, medical-grade components specific to the first aid item, and broad category coverage, not piece count.
A quality distributor can also offer you assistance with your first aid program. Choose a distributor that recommends products for your specific needs, is knowledgeable and trained in first aid, stocks product for quick delivery, and one that has your best interests in mind.
You always get what you pay for. Many times the difference between a quality kit and a poor quality kit is less than 10% in price. Buying a cheap kit may save you a dollar or two initially, but when you need it, you may not have the right components and be unprepared for a true emergency. Make sure that your kit covers burns, major bleeding, antiseptics, eye irrigation, personal protective equipment, bandaging, and cold therapy.
The most important issue is getting the right quantity of items, to cover the most categories of injury so that you are always prepared. Following the tips above will help you select the right first aid components for your company.