Being unprepared in the event of an accident can be very costly, and we're not just talking about money. If you have gotten by so far, consider yourself lucky, but for your safety and the safety of your employees, don't hold off any longer.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has extensive guidelines on maintaining first aid materials, not only for workers in one fixed location, but mobile units (like municipal sewer cleaners, for example) as well.
A recent post from EnvironmentalSafetyUpdate.com on OSHA’s first aid requirements explains:
The first aid kit must be “readily available,” i.e. easy to access in the event of an emergency. This issue is often relatively simple at fixed facilities, but can become more complicated when employees work off-site or drive in company vehicles. In situations like these, employers cannot forget that a first aid kit should be “readily available.” Accordingly, if employers have, for example, delivery truck drivers, it is recommended that these employers equip their trucks with first aid kits. [emphasis added]
According to OSHA.gov, the kit should be adequate for small work sites that use two or three employees. For larger operations or more workers, additional supplies or multiple first-aid kits should be available.
OSHA's List of First Aid Equipment Every Job Truck Should Carry:
1. Gauze pads (at least 4 x 4 inches).
2. Two large gauze pads (at least 8 x 10 inches).
3. Box adhesive bandages (band-aids).
4. One package gauze roller bandage at least 2 inches wide.
5. Two triangular bandages.
6. Wound cleaning agent, such as sealed moistened towelettes.
8. At least one blanket.
10. Adhesive tape.
11. Latex gloves.
12. Resuscitation equipment, such as a resuscitation bag, airway, or pocket mask.
13. Two elastic wraps.
15. Directions for requesting emergency assistance.
The agency says that first aid should be in “near proximity” to locations with potential hazards, such as falls, suffocation, electrocution or amputation. “Near proximity” is a vague term, but is generally understood as 3-4 minutes away from the site of a potential injury.
The state of California’s Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) has its own list of first aid equipment every job truck should carry for construction firms and other mobile industries. Many of the items are the same as the federal list above, and the specifics vary depending on the amount of employees at a given job site.
Not all of these materials are necessary by law, but many are good ideas, and we’ve picked out a few and listed them below. (The full DIR list is available at this link.)
- Cotton-tipped applicators
- Portable oxygen with breathing equipment
- Emesis basin
Also, “appropriate record forms” and an “up-to-date ‘standard’ or ‘advanced’ first-aid textbook, manual or equivalent” are required at every site, regardless of the number of employees.
While these lists may seem extensive, keep in mind that these are the minimum requirements put in place by government agencies. It might be a good idea to pack a few more things to look out for your workers’ aches and pains, not just gaping wounds and severed fingers.
Here are a few suggestions from BeThePro.com:
- Cold pack
- Water pack
- Unused quart and gallon freezer bags
- Eye wash cup and solution
- Burn gel or burn pads
First aid kits are available just about everywhere, from your local drugstore to many online retailers. Don’t wait - “Safety First” is a cliché for a reason.
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