One of the many rules in the book of OSHA, and one of the most important for construction and manufacturing industries, is OSHA 29 CFR 1910.151, which 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.”
Let’s face it, except in rare cases, an infirmary, clinic or hospital is not close enough to the job site to suffice. OSHA considers “reasonably accessible” to mean that care can be provided in five minutes or less, an unlikely situation even if you are only a few city blocks away from care. This means you need to understand first aid kits, the regulations governing them, and their use. Even if you do have care providers nearby, knowing first aid kit regulations and following them gives injured personnel a better chance at survival and recovery.
Not to mention, it keeps OSHA inspectors happy.
The Differences in First Aid Kits
The first thing to do is to understand the different first aid kits out there. There are two classes of first aid kits, as well as four types of kits.
The two classes of kits available are Class A and Class B. Class A is made to deal with common, basic workplace injuries – cuts, scrapes, small contaminations where you may need a quick eyewash or skin rinse. It also features fewer supplies, and is only capable of treating one or two people.
Class B kits, on the other hand, are designed to tackle more injuries, a wider range of injuries, and more complex injuries. These kits are meant for use in complex, high-risk environments or where there could be numerous incidents at once, or an incident with multiple victims.
For those two different classes, there are four types of kits, classified for special features that lend them to specific applications.
- Type I kits are basic first aid kits and cabinets for use in stationary, indoor applications where there aren’t environmental concerns for the kit or its contents.
- Type II kits are essentially the portable versions of Type I kits. They are meant for areas where they won’t be handle too roughly, and there are limited environmental factors that could damage the kit and contents. Often, Type I and Type II kits are found in the same workplace, so that aid can be taken to workers when needed.
- Type III kits are upgraded versions of Type II kits that can endure a little more environmental damage, but that can also be mounted if needed. They have a water-resistant seal, and can be kept in sheltered outdoor locations as well.
- Type IV kits are rugged, durable kits that are used where damage from rough handling and environmental factors is likely, and significant. They are meant to take abuse, and still be useable. The armed forces, transportation industry, utility industry, and most importantly, the construction industry utilize these types. They are perfect for transporting to and from a job site, storing in job trailers or trucks, and can take the abuse that getting roughed up on construction sites brings.
There are more types of kits beyond basic “first aid,” such as burn kits to treat burn injuries. While all first aid kits include eye wash, a dedicated eye wash station may be for appropriate for your situation. You also may need to keep clean-up kits around to supplement the first aid kit, such as bloodborne pathogen kits for blood clean-up. What you need is all determined by the industry you are in and the injuries you are seeing.
Contents, Maintenance, and Inspection
Class A and Class B kits have minimum requirements needed to be met to live up to the ANSI standards – they can be found here. Those are only minimum requirements, and every industry or company should fine tune them to fit the work they do, the sites they work on, and any trends they are seeing in incidents on their sites.
Maintaining your first aid kits is integral to ensuring they are easy to get to and utilize. Make sure the kit itself closes securely, but is easy to open. This protects the contents, but ensures that first aid can be ministered quickly when it was needed. Keep the area around first aid kits clear of obstacles, and consider placing a chair nearby so that those who need to apply first aid can be seated and steady.
Inspection of the kits and their contents should be conducted on a regular basis. Some of the supplies included in the box may have expiration dates, and should be rotated out and replaced as they expire. Encourage employees to report kit usage, particularly if they are using single-use or limited stock items.
For instance, ANSI standard require a single burn dressing as minimum in Class A kits. If this dressing is used, the kit is not prepared if another burn incident occurs before the dressing is replaced. When it is used, management should be notified, and it should be replaced as soon as possible. Always have additional supplies available at a central location, so that the kits can be restocked as needed.
Using First Aid Kits
1910.151 has a second part beyond the kit itself – a person or persons adequately trained to render first aid. They understand that a first aid kit with limited or no knowledge of how to use it is rather useless. That’s why we recommend that every company invest in First Aid Training from a reputable trainer – the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association are great places to start your search, but there are often plenty of local options, including EMS services, vocational schools, fire and rescue services, and more.
We all hope to never need to use a first aid kit, but let’s face it, that’s why they are there. Understanding the regulations relating to these kits, the standards required, and the knowledge for use helps you to ensure that they are ready for use, and that your team knows how to use them. If you have questions about your first aid kits, the regulations, or you are interested in finding out what the right kits are for your needs, contact our team and we will work with you to tailor a first aid kit solution for your industry, job site, or construction team!