Medical emergencies can happen anywhere, but when they happen in the workplace it is imperative to design a first-aid program that is well-suited for your specific work environment so employees remain safe and healthy. But how do you know which program is best for your worksite and how do you execute that plan accordingly? With all that can go wrong, this can seem a bit overwhelming.
Here are some tips on how to develop a workplace first aid program that will keep you prepared for any and every health emergency.
The best first-aid program for any workplace will:
- Minimize the outcome of accidents or exposures
- Comply with OSHA requirements relating to first aid
- Include sufficient quantities of appropriate and readily accessible first-aid supplies and first-aid equipment (bandages, defibrillators, etc.)
- Assign and train first-aid providers who receive first-aid training suitable to the specific workplace and receive periodic refresher courses on first-aid skills and knowledge
What to consider when planning your workplace’s first-aid program
Assessing risk and obtaining information about worksite injuries, illnesses, and fatalities
An important step in planning a successful first-aid program is knowing what injuries, illnesses, and fatalities occur in your field and assessing the potential for future risks so you can aim to minimize them.
To assess risk, The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website is an excellent resource. Employers can also use the OSHA 300 log, OSHA 301 forms, their Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier reports or other records to better identify their businesses first-aid needs.
When assessing risk, it helps to know an estimate of EMS response times for all locations and for all times of the day and night when you have workers on duty.
Meeting OSHA first-aid requirements
The OSHA First Aid standard (29 CFR 1910.151) requires trained first-aid providers at all workplaces of any size if there is no “infirmary, clinic, or hospital in near proximity to the workplace which is used for the treatment of all injured employees.” It is important that your workplace meet these requirements to ensure the safety of your employees.
Providing adequate and appropriate first-aid supplies
To make sure your workplace has the correct amount and selection of first-aid supplies, it’s smart for employers to designate one person (or team) in charge of keeping stock and maintaining this supply. This person should consider:
- the kinds of injuries that occur
- how often these injuries occur
- where to store first-aid supplies that are readily available for emergency access
It is essential for employers to monitor and maintain their first-aid supplies to ensure employee safety.
Providing first-aid training
First-aid supplies are essential to your workplace, but you need to have employees who know how to use them. One of the most important parts of any first-aid program is the first-aid training offered and given to employees.
Who offers first-aid courses and training? Training for first aid is offered by the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, the National Safety Council, and other nationally recognized and private educational organizations.
What should your first-aid training program aim to teach trainees?
All successful first-aid training programs will strive to teach trainees
- How to respond to life-threatening health emergencies (poisoning, asphyxiation, stroke, cardiac arrest, etc.)
- How to respond to non life-threatening health emergencies (wounds, minor burns, temperature extremes, etc.)
- How to assess the scene and the victim
It’s extremely important that your first-aid training program complies with all applicable OSHA standards and regulations. After employees have received and completed proper first-aid training, periodic refresher courses are a great way to ensure they remember everything they’ve learned.
A safe and healthy workplace means safe and healthy employees. How do you achieve both? Remember these key components when planning a first-aid program for your workplace.