Medical & First-Aid

Medical/First-Aid

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard for medical and first-aid is contained in 29 CFR 1910.151. First-aid is emergency care that is provided for injury or sudden illness before medical treatment becomes available.

The OSH Act standard for medical and first-aid requires employers to have adequate first-aid supplies onsite as well as employees trained in the administration of first-aid if the facility is not in proximity to an infirmary, clinic, or hospital.

Why is it important to comply with the medical/first aid regulations?

Sudden and potentially life-threatening injuries or illnesses can occur in the workplace. Employers must be prepared to properly manage worker injuries that occur at the facility, especially if the nature of the facility’s activities renders workers vulnerable to occupational illness or injury.
The OSHA standard broadly applies to every employer of any size that is not in near proximity to an infirmary, clinic, or hospital.

Ensuring that the facility has adequate first-aid supplies as well as first-aid providers to act during emergency situations before medical authorities become available reduces the risk of serious onsite injury.

Important medical/first aid provisions

The OSH Act’s standard for medical and first-aid is contained in 29 CFR 1910.151. The primary provisions of the OSH Act’s medical and first-aid requirements can be summarized as 1) First-Aid Supplies and Equipment; and 2) First-Aid Personnel and Training.

In addition to these regulations, employers should refer to OSHA guidance or interpretation letters as well as state regulations if their facility is located within one of the 28 OSHA-delegated states or territories.

First-Aid Supplies and Equipment:
29 CFR 1910.151(b) states that in the absence of an infirmary, clinic, or hospital in near proximity to the facility, employers must make adequate first-aid supplies readily available onsite. OSHA may use its discretion when determining whether emergency care facilities are within “near proximity,” but generally requires responders to be able to arrive within 3-4 minutes.

The supplies should reflect the kinds of injuries that occur in the workplace and must be stored in an area where they are readily available for emergency access. Considering the commonality of cardiac arrest, OSHA recommends including an automated external defibrillator (AED) in the facility’s first-aid supplies and equipment. Furthermore, 29 CFR 1910.151(c) states that where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing must also be available onsite.

First-Aid Personnel and Training:
In the absence of an infirmary, clinic, or hospital in near proximity to the facility, employers must have at least one person who is adequately trained to render first-aid, known as a first-aid provider. This person must be trained in applying emergency medical procedures while waiting for an emergency medical service (EMS) to arrive.
Although OSHA does not provide first-aid programs, the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, the National Safety Council, and other nationally recognized organizations offer first-aid certification training. OSHA also requires certain employers to have CPR-trained rescuers on site.

OSHA recommends that employers also provide written workplace first-aid programs that include 1) Management Leadership and Employee Involvement; 2) Worksite Analysis; 3) Hazard Prevention and Control; and 4) Safety and Health Training. This first-aid program should be reviewed periodically to ensure that the first-aid procedures and equipment continue to meet the needs of the facility. Employers are also advised to consult with local fire and rescue service or emergency medical professionals to determine emergency response times and inform the workplace first-aid program.

Importance of implementing an active regulatory watch on medical/first aid regulations

Since the OSHA medical and first-aid standard under 29 CFR 1910.151 contains only three brief provisions, OSHA may enact new regulations to clarify and specify the first-aid standard.

Employers should also rely on guidance documents and OSHA interpretation letters to implement best management practices and minimize their risk of liability under the medical and first aid standard. In addition to the federal OSHA standard, 28 states implement their own occupational safety and health programs that may impose first-aid requirements that are stricter than the federal standard.

Learn more about medical/first aid

Bloodborne Pathogens

Definitions

What is first aid?

First-aid refers to medical attention that is usually administered immediately after the injury occurs and at the location where it occurred before emergency medical service (EMS) personnel arrive. Examples of first-aid include cleaning minor cuts, treating a minor burn, applying bandages and dressings, or administering non-prescription medicine.

What is a first-aid provider?

A first-aid provider is someone who is trained in the delivery of initial medical emergency procedures, using a limited amount of equipment to perform medical intervention while awaiting arrival of emergency medical service (EMS) personnel.


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