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OSHA Compliance for workplace first aid

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific requirements for workplace first aid and CPR readiness. Some OSHA compliance guidelines require specified industries to offer employees first-aid and CPR training.

Aside from these specific industries, OSHA standard 1910.151 states, “The employer shall guarantee the rapid availability of medical personnel for guidance and consultation on plant health concerns.” Compliance with the “ready availability of medical personnel” requirement may imply providing employees with training to provide on-site medical help.

Part (b) of the same requirement states, “In the absence of a nearby infirmary, clinic, or hospital for the care of all injured employees, a person or persons shall be suitably trained to provide first aid.” Furthermore, in “areas where accidents resulting in asphyxia, major bleeding, or other life-threatening or permanently disabling injury or disease can be expected,” OSHA has interpreted “close proximity” to be 4-6 minutes from injury to medical attention. If such injuries are uncommon, OSHA considers response times of up to 15 minutes to be reasonable. Compliance with OSHA standard 1910.151 training requirements includes CPR solely as a recommendation, but the criteria stated above mandate CPR.

What impact will this have on your workplace?

If your job falls under one of the specialized industries stated above, you must provide first aid and CPR training to at least one employee so that they can respond at all times.

If your workplace is in another industry, OSHA compliance requires you to consider the probability of injury in that industry.

Remember that industries with a high injury rate must provide medical care to employees within four to six minutes. Because emergency medical services use an eight-minute response time guideline for metropolitan areas, firms in high-injury industries must give employees first aid training.

Rural ambulance response times are often longer. Employers in those locations will need to provide first aid training to ensure OSHA compliance, even if injuries are rare (and possibly designate a first aid person). Contact your local emergency medical care provider to find out how long it will take to respond to 911 calls in your area.

Any concerns regarding OSHA compliance in your sector should urge you to provide personnel with first aid and CPR training. OSHA recommends updating training for life-threatening events (CPR) once a year and updating training for non-life-threatening occurrences (first aid) on a regular basis.

First aid kits

Providing first aid and CPR training is only the first step in building a workplace first aid program. Employers must also supply the tools and resources needed to perform first aid. If specific employees in your company are designated for medical response, the employer must implement a bloodborne pathogen exposure management program.

Plan for exposure control

Employees who may come into contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials (body tissues and fluids) must be protected against bloodborne infections. Employers must create an exposure control plan to protect their employees and respond to unintentional exposures.

The infectious disease officer must be designated within the organization. The OSHA regulations contain an exposure control plan that can be customized for each firm. Any employee who works with blood or other potentially contagious materials must take universal measures, which include the following:

  • When contact with blood or bodily fluids is expected, use barrier equipment such as medical exam gloves, masks, eye protection, and gowns.

  • Even if barrier measures are used, wash your hands after any contact with blood or bodily fluids. As soon as the gloves are removed, wash your hands.

  • Taking precautions to avoid injury from sharp objects such as needles and scalpels Needles and scalpels that have been used should never be recapped. For the purposes of universal precautions, any sharp objects polluted with blood are considered “sharp.” For example, if an employee cuts herself on a piece of shattered glass, the glass is deemed potentially infectious.

There are a few more plan components that must be implemented. Items tainted with blood or bodily fluids must be disposed of in biohazardous waste receptacles. Sharps, in particular, must be disposed of in puncture-resistant containers clearly labeled as biohazardous waste.