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First Aid and CPR

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, millions of employees are injured on the job each year. Many more receive first aid services that are not recorded on OSHA injury and illness logs. A first aid and CPR program is the most effective way to quickly treat employees injured at work.

First Aid

OSHA's first aid standard requires employers to ensure ready availability of medical personnel for advice and consultation on matters of company health. Compliance with the OSHA standard varies from company to company. Some companies feel that first aid and CPR duties should be left to local emergency services personnel, hospitals and clinics. Others have trained first aid, CPR and automated external defibrillator responders on staff.

Regardless of which method is used, adequate first aid supplies should be readily available to all employees. An example of a generic first aid kit can be found in ANSI Z308.1-2021 "Minimum Requirements for Workplace First Aid Kits and Supplies."

Employers should contact their company doctor or other medical professionals for information on what specific first aid supplies their organization needs. Employers can use OSHA 300 logs, OSHA 301s or other reports to help medical professionals identify the injury problems unique to their workplace. An inventory of all first aid supplies should be posted inside the kit so replacement supplies can easily be ordered.

Duty to Have First Responders

OSHA's Medical and First Aid standard states, "in the absence of an infirmary, clinic or hospital in near proximity to the workplace which is used for the treatment of all injured employees, a person or persons shall be adequately trained to render first aid."

In a letter of interpretation, OSHA defines "in close proximity" as:

  • In areas where accidents resulting in suffocation, severe bleeding, or other life-threatening injury or illness can reasonably be expected, a 3-4-minute response time is required
  • In areas where a life-threatening injury is an unlikely outcome, a 15-minute response time is acceptable.

In many manufacturing and construction environments, the possibility exists for a life-threatening injury to occur. If an outside emergency response team would not be able to respond within 3-4 minutes, the organization should have several employees per shift trained in first aid and CPR.

First Aid and CPR Training

First aid training can be received through the American Red Cross, National Safety Council, American Heart Association and private institutions. While first aid and CPR training can be taken separately, most training institutions offer a combined First Aid/CPR/AED course. The American Red Cross offers standard, specialized, and combined first aid, CPR and AED courses throughout the United States via local chapters. After completion of the course and successfully passing the written and practical tests, trainees receive a two-year certification. Mobile apps may be downloaded to provide refresher training during the two-year period. Renewal and recertification classes are offered. Instructor certification courses are also available.

The National Safety Council and the American Heart Association® provide training in basic first aid procedures, CPR and the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in separate and combined courses.

After completion of their course and successful passing of the written and practical tests, trainees receive a course completion card. Instructor certification courses are also offered. They do not conduct renewal or recertification condensed courses.

Private institutions also teach courses in basic first aid, but most do not have the ability to certify their trainees. Skill effectiveness can diminish quickly after training. Therefore, first aid and CPR training recertification should be updated at a minimum of every year.

It is best to have a minimum of two employees per shift trained in first aid and CPR. If you only have one trained employee and they are out of the building or they are injured, first aid response times will increase significantly.

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