As the first line of defense until emergency medical treatment is available, first aid kits and first aid procedures are critical to preventing further harm to someone who has sustained an injury at the worksite. Whether soothing a burn with ointment, wrapping a nasty sprain, or immobilizing a body part to prevent further injury, it’s important to know which first aid kit is the right one for your occupational environment.
Commercial first aid kits come in two classes, and contain a variety of supplies which may or may not be suitable for your specific facility or work site. When making a selection, you want to ensure your place of business possesses the necessary supplies to treat an injury before medical assistance can arrive. With that in mind, let’s take a look at which first aid kits work best for treating different types of injuries.
How to Treat Bleeding
Cuts, scrapes, lacerations or splinters can cause bleeding from an open wound. If the bleeding is mild, wash the wound with soap and lukewarm water to prevent infection, then apply firm pressure to the site with a sterile gauze pad. Once bleeding has stopped, clean with an antiseptic wipe, apply antibiotic ointment, and then wrap or cover the wound with a rolled gauze bandage. For more serious gashes where the bleeding is profuse, wait until the blood clots before washing and dressing.
Recommended kit: Economy Restaurant/Food Service First Aid Kit
How to Treat Sprains
Sprains, strains, and torn ligaments can happen anywhere. And without tending to them, these kinds of injuries can get much worse. First, immobilize the affected limb or appendage and make sure to elevate or support it with a soft foundation like a pillow or sweatshirt. Next, apply a cold compress, such as a bag of ice or instant ice pack, for 15-20 minutes to reduce swelling and inflammation. Wrapping sprains with an elastic bandage, slowly and tautly, will also help in this regard by limiting movement. Pain can be treated with extra strength pain reliever or ibuprofen. If swelling and pain persist or the area becomes severely discolored, the individual should go to the hospital.
Recommended kit: Portable Construction/Job Site First Aid Kit
How to Treat Fractures (and Know When a Bone is Really Broken)
Broken, cracked, or splintered bones will always require a visit to the hospital or emergency room. But at the worksite, a few steps can be taken to prevent further injury. Broken bones are often accompanied by swelling and bruising, intense pain that gets worse with movement, loss of function of the appendage, and possible deformity of the area around the bone. Much like a sprain, the first thing to do is immobilize the affected limb or appendage. If the fracture is treatable on site, apply a temporary sam splint. This must be done carefully to prevent the bones from moving and causing internal injuries. Only transport the individual yourself if ambulance service is unavailable.
Recommended kit: Class B First Aid Kit
What to Do for Head, Neck or Spinal Injuries
In the event a coworker suffers an injury to their head, neck, or spine – do everything you can to prevent movement of the affected area. If they must be moved, carefully place them on a stiff backboard or support structure and enlist multiple people for help transporting. For concussions, if the person is vomiting, dizzy, or unconscious, they must be taken to the hospital. Although treatment of these kind of injuries is best left to professionals, we do recommend having a Polymer Backboard/Spineboard with Straps on hand for industrial sites.
How to Treat Burns
For burns, run the affected area under cool, not ice cold, water for 15-20 minutes. Ice cold water can make the burn worse. The cool water will help mitigate pain and swelling, and could prevent the burn from reaching deeper layers of skin and tissue. For first degree burns, after rinsing, apply a sterile gauze bandage or sterile hydrogel burn dressing. Applying burn gel can also aid with pain relief and swelling. Wash the burn and replace the bandages daily until completely healed. For more serious burns, with blistering or swelling, emergency medical treatment will be required.
Recommended kit: Large Restaurant/Food Service Kit
How to Treat Chemical Burns
If the chemical is in liquid form, such as sulfuric acid, softly rinse the affected area with room temperature soapy water for 15-20 minutes. The objective is to completely flush the chemical from the skin. If it’s in powder form, such as dry lime, carefully brush it off the skin and remove any clothing or jewelry that came into contact with it. Be sure to wear protective gloves to avoid contact. Cover the burn with a sterile gauze bandage to prevent infection and seek medical assistance as soon as possible.
Recommended kit: Medium Industrial First Aid Kit
(Note: For chemical injuries to the eye, rinse the eye thoroughly at an emergency eyewash station, portable eye wash unit, or with sterile eyewash solution and seek immediate medical attention.)
Commercial and home first aid kits can handle most minor injuries and annoyances, but in many cases, more substantial care is necessary – especially if the injury requires long-term recovery. The right first aid kit and procedures will help minimize the healing time.