OSHA Requirements for First Aid
When construction crews arrive at your job site, they trust you’ve identified potential hazards and taken steps to mitigate risk. Following necessary health and safety measures is just the beginning, though—especially in an industry infamous for being one of the most dangerous. Consider these statistics:
- Twenty percent of the country’s private industry fatalities occurred in the construction sector. These employee deaths (1,061) marked a 5 percent industry increase from the previous year and the largest total since 2007. (BLS)
- A recent contractor survey found that nearly all participants (95 percent) had concerns about whether workers possess adequate skills for the job. (USCOC)
- The construction sector saw 195,600 workplace injuries and 3,600 workplace illnesses. The industry was among the top six most dangerous that year.
Construction sites have a variety of lurking hazards—even for the most prepared crews. To safeguard individual workers, reduce occupational risk and avoid hefty penalties from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, construction firms adhere to industry-best health and safety practices.
Each year, OSHA issues comprehensive guidelines for protecting the health and safety of construction and other labor industry employees. These include conducting worksite analyses, planning for hazard prevention, controlling the worksite environment, and performing safety and skill training to make the job a success. But just as important is OSHA’s guidelines for risk prevention is the requirement that work zones offer easy access to one or more ANSI-approved first aid kits.
To comply with the most basic OSHA Workers’ Rights established under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), construction firms must provide a safe, healthy work environment that is free from “known health and safety hazards.” Achieving this goal begins with identifying a jobsite’s unique risks, planning for risk control and mitigation—and stocking compliant first aid supplies.
To go beyond the basics and create a 24/7 culture of health, productivity and risk management, most companies appoint a safety leadership team comprised of vigilant staff members trained in first aid and CPR/defibrillator protocols. These team members may be responsible for educating personnel about worksite risks, offering on-the-job training for new and returning contractors, and encouraging situational awareness that is proven to decrease workplace accidents and injuries
Planning for First Aid Kits & Jobsite Safety Measures
In addition to fulfilling a construction firm’s training and risk assessment functions, the safety leadership team is typically responsible for determining the most practical first aid supplies and managing supply inventories. Essential supplies for compliant first aid kits vary based on the workplace’s unique risks but generally include items detailed in OSHA’s 910.266 App A.
- Latex or nitrile gloves
- Standard gauze pads
- Large gauze pads
- Gauze roll
- Boxes of adhesive bandages (all sizes)
- Triangular band-aids
- Adhesive tape
- Wound cleaner & moist towelettes
- Burn dressing & treatment supplies
- Scissors & tweezers
- Resuscitator bag valve mask (BVM)
- CPR pocket mask or disposable breathing barrier
- Elastic wraps or ACE bandages
- Splints & tourniquets
- Eye & skin wash
- Cold packs
- Emergency contact list
- Instructions for basic first aid
Construction teams can invest in a Red Cross or ANSI-approved general-purpose first aid kit, or they can build their own medical supply boxes. Additional supplies, like eyewash or fall protection kits, also provide serious protection for your team—and your reputation. Minimum supply requirements are also found in ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2015, prepared by the International Safety Equipment Association’s First Aid Group.
Audit First Aid Kits to Maintain a Prepared Worksite
To keep crews safe from harm while complying with OSHA and other industry standards, contractors and site supervisors should regularly review medical supplies for quality and completeness. To audit your first aid kit or cabinet, remember these steps:
- Keep an inventory of required items
- Remove & replace expired supplies
- Remove damaged or unsafe inventory
- Check & restock missing supplies
- Sanitize/organize a kit’s interior & exterior
Construction site guidelines also require that first aid supplies be sealed in packages and stored inside a waterproof container. All medical kits should be thoroughly inspected before arriving on the job site. Weekly checkups ensure items are adequately stocked and ready for use.
Developing Workplace Safety Programs
First aid preparation begins with a thorough jobsite inspection followed by a strategy session to discuss medical supply needs and site-specific risks for injury or illness.
Your health and safety program should include written policies and helpful instructions for employees. It’s also wise to schedule frequent “training refreshers” for members of your safety crew as well as the general employee population.
When it’s time to move to a new construction site or workplace, safety teams should re-evaluate emergency response measures based on the new location, staff numbers and site-specific risks. You may also need to update first aid supply kits to maintain safe, OSHA-compliant work environments on all job sites.
With some pre-planning and thought, you can help your site mitigate risk and ensure everyone goes home safely each night. Until next time….Work Safe & Be Safe!