Workplace First Aid Standard Gets Revised
ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2021 American National Standard for Minimum Requirements for Workplace First Aid Kits and Supplies has been revised. This voluntary industry consensus standard is aimed at standardizing first aid kits to ensure that items needed to treat the most common types of injuries and sudden illnesses encountered in the workplace are readily accessible and available. ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2021 was first published in 1978.
The standard is applicable to various work environments and establishes minimum performance requirements for first aid kits and their supplies. It includes classifications for first aid kits and designates the type and quantity of items for kits, based on the approximate number of users, the nature of the work environment and the hazards therein. First aid kit containers are classified by portability, ability to be mounted, resistance to water and corrosion and impact resistance.
This revision – the sixth – will be effective October 15, 2022. It retains existing kit classifications (Class A or Class B), but has some significant changes. Among them:
A foil blanket has been added as a mandatory item for both kit classes. This was considered based on an assessment of similar international standards and in recognition of the multiple purposes that the item can serve during the treatment of a workplace injury or illness.
More specificity has been included for tourniquets to distinguish them from those types of bands used to draw blood, which is not as effective in preventing blood loss, as is intended. Similarly, the appendix includes greater guidance on a separately-packaged bleeding control kit, which contain more advanced first aid supplies to immediately treat life-threatening external bleeding.
This update also includes more robust discussion to assist the employer in assessing risks, identifying potential hazards, and selecting additional first aid supplies relevant to a particular application or work environment.
This standard was processed and approved using consensus procedures prescribed by the American National Standards Institute.
In its Best Practices Guide: Fundamentals of a Workplace First-Aid Program, OSHA references ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2021, and notes that the employer should give a specific person the responsibility for choosing and maintaining the types and amounts of first-aid supplies. and for maintaining these supplies. “The supplies must be adequate, should reflect the kinds of injuries that occur, and must be stored in an area where they are readily available for emergency access.” Additionally, “employers who have unique or changing first-aid needs should consider upgrading their first-aid kits.”
In addition to having first aid kits and supplies, OSHA recommends that employers determine how long it would take for EMS to arrive at all workplace locations, at all times of the day and night during which they have workers on duty. That information should be used when planning a first aid program. It is advisable to put the first aid policies and procedures in writing, and to communicate them to all employees. Language barriers should be addressed both in instructing employees on first-aid policies and procedures and when designating individuals who will receive first-aid training and become the on-site first-aid providers.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has information available for a variety of incidents for which first aid would be required. These cover signs and symptoms and outline first aid procedures for:
- Venomous snake bites and contact with poisonous plants, which workers in the agricultural, forestry, lumber and other outdoor industries could be exposed to
- Exposure to chemical hazards, which could occur in a wide range of industries
- Heat stress and heat-related illness, which can affect both outdoor workers and those who perform tasks in heated indoor environments
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