OSHA’s first aid requirements can be confusing. Read on to better understand what you need to do to ensure worker safety at construction sites.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) first aid requirements for construction are found in OSHA’s 1926 standards. These standards are designed to assure that adequate first aid is available in the critical minutes between the occurrence of an injury and the availability of physician or hospital care for the injured employee.
What the Standard Says
The standard states that If there is no infirmary, clinic, hospital, or physician “reasonably accessible in terms of time and distance” to the site, there must be someone with a valid certificate in first aid training from the American Red Cross or equivalent training that can be verified by documentary evidence available to render first aid.
So what does OSHA consider “reasonably accessible”? OSHA says “reasonably accessible” emergency care must be available within three to four minutes.
The Standard also requires “proper equipment for prompt transportation of the injured person to a physician or hospital, or a communication system for contacting necessary ambulance service”, and “in areas where 911 emergency dispatch services are not available, the telephone numbers of the physicians, hospitals, or ambulances shall be conspicuously posted.”
First Aid is all about providing workers with prompt, easily accessible, and appropriate first aid treatment.
Depending on your workplace, some of the following may be required:
- First aid assessment
- First aid responders/attendants with the training appropriate for the type of workplace, number of workers, and time it takes to arrive at a hospital.
- An area where care can be provided.
- First Aid kits with appropriate types and quantities of supplies.
- A record-keeping system to log incidents.
First Aid Assessment
To determine the adequate and appropriate level of first aid coverage your workplace needs, you must conduct a first aid assessment. This requires a full review of the workplace. The assessment will help to determine the minimum level of first aid needed in your workplace. OSHA’s developed a great document to help you think through this process.
OSHA’s language regarding first aid training is somewhat vague. The standard doesn’t name any particular training program or level of expertise for first aid compliance. However, more specific training requirements are named in some of OSHA’s standards. These include: permit-required confined spaces, logging operations, electric power, and construction.
The standard for permit-required confined spaces, 1910.146: Permit-required Confined Spaces, requires employers to train affected employees in basic first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), as well as ensure that at least one member of the rescue team or service holding a current certification in both is available.
Electric Power Industry
For information about training in first aid at work locations in the electric power industry see 29 CFR 1910.269(b).
For information about mandatory first aid training for logging employees see 29 CFR 1910. 266(i)(7).
Keep in mind, if an employee is trained in first aid and identified by the employer as responsible for rendering medical assistance as part of his/her job duties, that employee is covered by OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens standard.
First Aid Kits
OSHA addresses the contents of first aid kits for construction work sites. They state that each type of item should be in individually sealed packages and placed in a waterproof container. OSHA also states that the kits should be checked by employers before being sent out to each job and checked at least weekly as well, to make sure that any used items have been replaced.