First aid refers to medical attention that is usually performed immediately after the injury occurs and at the location where it occurred. It often consists of a one-time, short-term treatment and requires little technology or training to administer. First aid can include cleaning minor cuts, scrapes, or scratches; treating a minor burn; applying bandages and dressings; the use of non-prescription medicine; draining blisters; removing debris from the eyes; massage; and drinking fluids to relieve heat stress. OSHA’s revised recordkeeping rule, which went into effect January 1, 2002, does not require first aid cases to be documented.
First Aid Programs
First aid training is primarily received through the American Red Cross, the National Safety Council (NSC), and private institutions. The American Red Cross and NSC offer standard and advanced first aid courses via their local chapter/training centers. After completing the course and successfully passing the written and practical tests, trainees receive two certificates: (adult CPR and first aid). An emphasis on quick response to first aid situations is incorporated throughout the program. Other program elements include: basic first aid intervention, basic adult cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and universal precautions for self-protection. Specific program elements include training specific to the type of injury: shock, bleeding, poisoning, burns, temperature extremes, musculoskeletal injuries, bites and stings, medical emergencies, and confined spaces. Instruction in the principles and first aid intervention of injuries will cover the following sites: head and neck, eye, nose, mouth and teeth, chest, abdomen, and hand, finger, and foot injuries. Employers are responsible for the type, amount, and maintenance of first aid supplies needed for their particular program. The training program should be periodically reviewed with current first aid techniques and knowledge. Basic adult CPR retesting should occur every year and first aid skills and knowledge should be reviewed every three years.
It is a requirement of OSHA that employees be given a safe and healthy workplace that is reasonably free of occupational hazards. However, it is unrealistic to expect accidents not to happen. Therefore, employers are required to provide medical and first aid personnel and supplies corresponding with the hazards of the workplace. The details of a workplace medical and first aid program depend on the circumstances of each workplace and employer. Medical and first aid services are addressed in specific standards for the general industry, shipyard employment, marine terminals, longshoring, and the construction industry.
It is very important that a business have at least one first aid kit in the office or at a construction area. Having an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) on location could be life-saving in the event of a heart attack. OSHA also requires that certain items be contained in every first aid kit, such as:
- Bloodborne Pathogen Kit (in case of chemical or airborne illness). A disposable gown with sleeves could be used if chemicals are spilled on clothes.
- CPR pack, when someone needs to perform CPR on another person.
- Large biohazard bags that are used to clean up spills.
- Disposable towels for cleanups.
- Plastic gloves.
- Face mask.first
- Eye Shield (all to be used when handling hazardous materials.)
- At least one CPR one-way face shield.
A regular first aid kit needs to be stocked with basics such as splints, gauze, antiseptics, bandages, and alcohol pads, in addition to:
- Compress for head injuries or swollen injuries
- Plastic gloves
- Eye wash kit
- Burn cream or spray
- Aspirin or other over the counter pain relievers
Each work environment requires slightly different kits because each job has different injury possibilities. You can check with your local OSHA representative to get a full list of the items you should have in your first aid kits.
In the event of a serious injury, the first thing a person should do is have someone call 9-1-1 immediately, while they begin administering first aid in the manner they have been trained to do. To see the exact standards for each type of occupation, you may research the OSHA website.
One suggestion is that every home have a well-supplied first aid kit; also one in their car. We never know when someone may need first aid, at home, or on the road.