Minimum Requirements & Best Practices for First Aid Programs
OSHA requires every U.S. workplace to provide first aid access to injured employees regardless of the number of workers within the company. However, more rigorous best practices, such as placement of AEDs in facilities, have the potential to save more lives.
OSHA also requires all workplaces to have readily available at hand; first aid kits that fulfill the minimum requirements of ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2009. Beyond the minimum requirements, employers must supplement the kits with added materials based on hazards present in the workplace. Reviewing recent OSHA 300 logs is a great jumping off point for identifying commonly used items for your first aid kit.
The OSHA Medical Service and First Aid Standard (1910.151) states that employers must have adequately trained first aid practitioners present at all times at a work site if the risk of serious injury exists and the work site is not near a hospital, infirmary or clinic.
According to a 2007 OSHA standard interpretation:
"In workplaces where serious accidents such as those involving falls, suffocation, electrocution or amputations are possible, emergency medical services must be available within three to four minutes, if there is no employee on the site who is trained to render first aid.”
However, at work sites where “the possibility of such serious work-related injuries is more remote,” such as an office setting, OSHA allows up to 15 minutes of response time before trained first aid personnel must be present, the interpretation states.
Some employers fulfill OSHA requirements by training employee volunteers in basic first aid, as well as CPR and AED use. CPR can help keep a person alive before emergency medical services arrive by providing a victim with oxygen and continued blood flow to the brain.
The National Safety Council recommends the following as best practices for an organization’s volunteer emergency response team:
- Have one trained emergency response volunteer for every 10 employees.
- Each area of a work site should be accessible by a volunteer within three to four minutes.
- Arrange replacements for first aid volunteers who are out sick or on vacation.
- Consider the number of shifts at each work site to ensure each is sufficiently covered.
Automated External Defibrillator ( A E D )
If a worker experiences sudden cardiac arrest or SCA, a condition where the heart unexpectedly stops beating – the sooner someone trained in using an AED uses the device to attempt to restore the victim’s normal heart rhythm, the better the victim’s outcome may be. According to the American Heart Association’s 2010 Guidelines for CPR and Emergency Cardiovascular Care, a sudden cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival decreases by 7 to 10 percent every minute between collapse and receiving AED and CPR first aid. OSHA recommends employers evaluate each worksite’s need for AEDs and learn the local, state and federal AED regulations for each site.
The number of AEDs that should be included in each building depends on the size of the building and the proximity of employees to the devices – not on how many employees are in the organization. The best practice is to have one Automated External Defibrillator per every one-and-a-half minutes of walking distance to any area of the job site.
Organizations should make sure they check their AEDs as the manufacturer’s recommendations reflect, or more. Depending on the equipment, the batteries, pads or entire device may need to be replaced. AEDs do not last forever. They need to be checked and documented like any other equipment to make sure it is ready for usage.
ORR Item# ZOL214000101010
- Employee volunteer emergency response teams trained in first aid, CPR, AED use and blood borne pathogens can help fulfill or supplement OSHA requirements.
- Work sites that present serious hazards and are more than three to four minutes away from emergency medical services must provide adequately trained first aid practitioners at all times.
- A best practice for AED availability is to install one every one-and-a-half minutes of walking distance to any area of a work site.