Over half (55 percent) of employees don’t receive first aid or CPR/AED training from their employer.
This lack of training makes employees (as well as customers and clients) more susceptible to severe injuries (and the productivity and performance challenges that often accompany them).
Learn more about the importance of first aid preparedness in the workplace — as well as how to ensure you’re prepared for anything that comes your way — below.
The Importance of Workplace First Aid Preparedness
Even those who think they work in “safe” industries can benefit from basic first-aid knowledge. The following are some of the most significant reasons why workplace first aid preparedness matters:
If someone gets hurt on the job, time is of the essence. The faster you can get them the proper care, the easier it is for them to recover and for everyone else to get back to work.
Having the right equipment on hand (and having multiple employees who can act quickly and know how to use the equipment correctly) can prevent a problem from escalating and causing more people to get hurt.
Many employees feel more at ease simply knowing that a first aid kit is accessible and that they know how to use the different materials stored in it.
Access to a well-stocked first-aid kit can stop bleeding, resuscitate someone who has stopped breathing, and potentially save someone’s life.
Legal Requirements for First Aid in the Workplace
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers must provide a medical and first aid program that is “commensurate with the hazards of the workplace.”
There is no standardized set of rules and regulations that all employers have to follow. However, every organization can benefit from some kind of first aid or health and safety protocol.
Assessing First Aid Needs in Your Workplace
Every workplace comes with different hazards and, therefore, different first aid needs. Here are some factors to keep in mind when you evaluate your workplace’s unique needs:
Nature of Your Work/Workplace
Start by evaluating the nature of your workplace and the potential hazards or risks your employees might encounter.
Consider the most common injuries people might experience and the kinds of first aid equipment that could be used to tend to those injuries and prevent them from escalating. Factor in the physical demands of the job, the kinds of machinery people interact with regularly, etc.
Next, think about the composition of your employees.
For example, what is the average age of your employees? Do you know of multiple people who have pre-existing health conditions? Are any of the employees people with disabilities who need additional accommodations?
Think back over the last few years and consider how frequently accidents have happened at your workplace.
What kinds of accidents occurred, and were you equipped to handle them? If not, what can you do differently (with regard to training, access to first aid materials, etc.) to ensure you can handle them appropriately?
The size of your workforce will also influence the number of first aid kits and other materials (such as AEDs) you have on hand.
For example, if you work in a small office with ten people, one first aid kit is probably sufficient. Conversely, if you work for a large corporation, you might want to have a first aid kit on every floor.
Unique Worker Needs
Do any of your employees work independently or travel often? If so, take their health and safety into account as well.
For example, when it comes to lone workers, like security guards, make sure they have easy access to a first aid kit and have reliable communication tools so they can call for help if needed. As for traveling workers, you may want to include a first aid kit in their vehicle.
Is your workforce distributed across multiple locations? If so, conduct separate first aid assessments for each location, especially if the employees in one area use different equipment, carry out other tasks, and face unique hazards or safety issues.
If your business is one that runs around the clock, or if you have employees working multiple shifts, be sure to take those patterns into account. Keep track of when employees come in and out of the building and make sure all employees, regardless of when they work, receive the same first aid training, know where the first aid kit is stored, etc.
Access to Emergency Services
How close is your office to a hospital, urgent care facility, etc.? If you call an ambulance, how long will it take for emergency responders to get to you?
If you don’t have easy access to emergency services, you may want to keep extra materials on hand so you can tend to an injured employee while you wait for the ambulance to arrive.
If your company works with harmful chemicals or other hazardous materials, you may want to inform the nearest hospital or clinic so they know what to expect if you call for help in the future.
First Aid Kits and Equipment Essentials
Keeping a first aid kit on hand (and knowing where it’s located) can mitigate many on-site accidents and injuries. At a minimum, you should include the following materials in your company’s first aid kit (or kits):
- Regular-sized gauze pads (they should be at least 4 x 4 inches)
- At least two large gauze pads (they should be at least 8 x 10 inches)
- One box of adhesive bandages
- One package of gauze roller bandage (it should be at least 2 inches wide)
- Two triangular bandages
- A wound cleaning agent, such as moistened and sealed towelettes
- Adhesive tape
- Latex and latex-free gloves
- Two elastic bandage wraps
- Resuscitation equipment (resuscitation bag, airway, pocket mask, etc.)
- Directions for requesting emergency assistance (including relevant phone numbers)
Conclusion: Creating a Safer Workplace with First Aid Preparedness
Adequate first aid preparedness (including having a fully stocked first aid kit readily available) plays a critical role in creating a safe workplace for employees (as well as customers or clients who come in and out of the business throughout the day.
Follow the suggestions and guidelines shared above to assess your organization’s first aid needs and create protocols that will fulfill them.