At construction sites everywhere, one thing is always a given: At some point, somebody is going to need the first-aid kit.
As it does for all workplaces, OSHA requires a first-aid kit (and someone certified in first-aid training) at all construction sites. However, there are differences between OSHA’s general industry requirements and those OSHA Standard 1926.50 mandates for the construction sector. For example, a construction site’s first-aid kit must always be stored in a weatherproof container. In addition, every item inside must be individually sealed. Furthermore, these kits are supposed to be checked at least once a week to make sure they always have the right supplies.
Here’s why this is so important:
A properly stocked first-aid kit can be the difference between a minor scrape staying minor (and not being documented) and the Laborer who suffered it missing time on the job when the cut becomes infected (and an entry on the OSHA 300 log). However, in order to ensure that your worksite’s first-aid kit contains the appropriate supplies, you first have to understand what first aid is.
What Is First Aid?
OSHA defines first aid as medical care that is administered immediately after an injury occurs and at the location where it happened. First-aid treatment includes:
- Cleaning minor cuts, scrapes or scratches
- Treating a minor burn
- Draining blisters
- Applying bandages
- Flushing debris from the eyes
- Giving fluids to relieve heat stress
- Providing non-prescription medicine like ibuprofen for pain or phenylephrine HCI tablets for allergy relief
Must Haves for Every First-Aid Kit
The American National Standards Institute ANSI Z308.1 – 2015, which was just updated and is available for purchase, lists the supplies that should be a minimum in all first-aid kits. Some of these essentials are listed below:
- 16 adhesive bandages 1×3 in.
- 2.5 yds. adhesive tape
- 10 antiseptic applications 1.57 fl. oz. each
- 10 burn treatment applications 1/32 oz. each
- 2 sterile pads 3×3 in. minimum
- 2 pair medical exam gloves
- 1 triangular bandage 40 in. x 40 in. x 56 in.
It’s also important to check these and all other first aid supplies to be sure expiration dates have not passed and to add to them based on the jobsite. For example, anti-itch lotion probably isn’t going to be in demand at a downtown building demolition project, but it’s a good idea to stock it when work involves road repair where poison ivy is likely to be growing.
The LHSFNA’s Occupational Safety and Health Division can provide additional guidance on specific supplies that should be included in your worksite’s first-aid kit. Division staff can also perform on-site visits and review your emergency assistance plan. The Fund has also developed a new online Site Safety and Health Program (SSHP) that signatory contractors can use to create individual safety and health programs customized for the company’s or jobsite’s specific needs. For more information, call 202-628-5465.
[Janet Lubman Rathner]