Updated: Oct 17, 2018
First aid kits are a standard in American workplaces. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration dictates the parameters of these kits, insomuch as how many kits must be accessible to employees, and what types and how many of each item must be supplied in these kits. Employers must comply by these standards or risk costly fees and/or shutdowns.
The standards for a small work site that consists of two to three employees are a good basis to start all workplace first aid kits. When considering a work space that has more than just a few employees, make sure you increase exponentially the amount of materials you keep in your first aid kit.
4x4” minimum size gauze pads
(2) 8x10” minimum size gauze pads
1 box adhesive bandages, such as Band-Aids
1 package roll of gauze bandage, minimum 2” wide
(2) triangular bandages
A wound-cleaning agent, such as sealed moistened towelettes
A pair of scissors
Minimum of one blanket
Resuscitation equipment such as resuscitation bag, airway or pocket mask
(2) elastic wraps
Directions for requesting emergency assistance
In addition to a fully-stocked first aid kit, companies are required by OSHA to maintain fundamental equipment and safety standards. Annual safety training is mandatory for workplaces and their employees.
The first part of this annual training is setting the baseline requirements for company-wide first aid kit contents. These mandatory items listed above should enable anyone in a workplace to deal with an injury that may occur at the workplace. As stated, these items are a minimum requirement for a company to offer, and are listed as the minimum amounts according to a small number of employees. Companies will need to increase these amounts with an increased number of employees, and also may offer additional items that may be helpful in an emergency.
OSHA also allows employers to provide first aid kit supplies that are specific to the needs of their workplace. While there are no regulations about what additional supplies may be offered in these first aid kits, whoever the company chooses to select the additional items should be competent in first aid and knowledgeable about the hazards present in their particular workplace.
Another OSHA mandate includes required safety equipment such as emergency eye wash stations and showers within work areas where employees could be exposed to corrosive materials.
How to deal with bloodborne pathogens is another big part of OSHA safety standards. This training would apply to any employee who is expected to render first aid as part of their job duties, and includes a list of training that must be provided to those particular employees when they are initially assigned these duties, and annually (at a minimum) thereafter.
Employers are required to develop an exposure control plan to protect employees from bloodborne pathogens and to deal with accidental exposures. There are universal precautions that any employee who may handle blood or other bodily fluids must utilize. These include using barrier devices including gloves, mouth barriers, eye protection and gowns. These items should be placed near or in the first aid kits that are provided by the employer.
Further OSHA recommendations, but not requirements, are offering an automated external defibrillator (AED), training on how to use the AED, and CPR training to employees. The American Heart Association also recommends having AEDs in most public spaces.
Because the stakes are so high when it comes to employee safety, make sure to research what standards and requirements apply specifically to your company.