- Employers should make changes to workplace first aid kits, the International Safety Equipment Association recommended April 18, announcing that its standard for such kits has been approved by the American National Standards Institute. The standard takes effect Oct. 15.
- The new standard adds the inclusion of a foil blanket, adds specificity for tourniquets and provides additional guidance on designated bleeding control kits, according to ISEA. The standard also includes an enhanced workplace hazard assessment, which ISEA described as “a more robust discussion” of potential risks, hazards and a selection of additional first aid supplies needed for a particular application or work environment.
- “Employers should begin to check their first aid cabinets against the new standard, and make the recommended changes,” Todd VanHouten, director of product development and innovation at Cintas First Aid & Safety and chair of the ISEA First Aid Product Group, said in a statement.
While ISEA and ANSI are not government entities, their standards have been cited by both the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration as well as state occupational safety and health plans when drafting requirements and guidance, said Alka Ramchandani-Raj, shareholder at Littler Mendelson and co-chair of the firm’s workplace safety and health practice.
In its best practices guide on workplace first aid programs, for example, OSHA cited ANSI’s minimum requirements for workplace first aid kits, and the agency said the kits described therein were “suitable for small businesses.” Larger employers, OSHA said, “should determine how many first-aid kits are needed, and if it is appropriate to augment the kits with additional first-aid equipment and supplies.”
Ramchandani-Raj pointed to two changes made in the most recent first aid kit standard that she said were of most interest to employers. The first is the standard’s guidance on bleeding control kits; other than a small change in 2015, “we haven't seen a lot of development in that area,” Ramchandani-Raj said.
The second — and the one that may have more of an impact for employers — is the enhanced workplace hazard assessment, Ramchandani-Raj continued. If OSHA or state plans were to adopt an enhanced assessment standard, that could mean that employers would need to have more detailed discussions about their kits and necessary supplemental supplies and materials, she said.
This, in turn, could lead to increased costs for employers, especially for employers operating large numbers of facilities, each of which may require specific additional kit materials and supplies to address specific threats, Ramchandani-Raj said.
Aside from these concerns, though, the updated standard may reiterate the need for employers to check up on safety protocols. “I think employers should keep in mind that some of these things, like first aid kits, need to be replenished, replaced and should be monitored,” Ramchandani-Raj said. “When you see a standard like this come out, it refreshes that standpoint about how safety issues can occur in any facility.”