What does OSHA consider as First Aid?  According to OSHA, First Aid is care provided for injured employees or an employee with a sudden illness or for lesser injuries that don’t require actual medical treatment. 

Here is a list provided by OSHA to describe what is considered OSHA first aid:

  •  Using a nonprescription medication at nonprescription strength  (to administer it at prescription strength, even with the recommendation of a physician or licensed health care professional is considered medical treatment)
  •  Administering tetanus immunizations (other immunizations are considered medical treatment for recordkeeping purposes)  
  •  Cleaning, flushing or soaking wounds on the skin surface
  •   Applying wound coverings such as bandages, gauze pads, butterfly bandages, or Steri-strips (sutures, staples, etc. are considered medical treatment for recordkeeping purposes)
  •  Using cold or hot therapy
  •  Using non-rigid means of support – elastic bandages, wraps, non-rigid back belts, etc. (rigid supports designed to immobilize parts of the body are considered medical treatment for recordkeeping purposes)
  •  Using temporary immobilization devices (splints, slings, neck collars, boards, etc.) while transporting an accident victim
  •  Drilling of a fingernail or toenail to relieve pressure, or draining fluid from a blister
  •  Using eye patches
  •  Removing foreign objects from the eye using only irrigation or a cotton swab
  •  Removing splinters or foreign material from areas other than the eye by irrigation, tweezers, cotton swabs, or other simple means
  •  Using finger guards
  •  Using massages (physical therapy or chiropractic treatment are considered medical treatment for recordkeeping purposes)
  •  Drinking fluids for relief of heat stress

And this sums up what OSHA considers first aid.  Anything else is considered medical treatment!

Protect Employees from Potential Hazards with Employee Training on First Aid Safety

Employers are required to have an employee responsible for first aid in the workplace if no emergency treatment facilities are close by.  This gives the injured or ill employee a better chance of survival or complete healing by limiting the blood loss, etc. before emergency personnel arrive. 

Developing a First Aid Program in Office Environments

  1.  Recognize the potential hazards that can cause an employee injury or illness.  Use your OSHA Form 300  and OSHA 301 formas well as your worker’s compensation insurance reports for your type of business to assess the types of workplace hazards for which your employees need to be prepared.  Determine the response time of the nearest emergency medical responders, and determine what types of first-aid is necessary to help your employees until emergency responders arrive.  The OSHA First Aid Standard (1910.151) requires businesses of all sizes to provide employee training for  first-aid providers if there is no “infirmary, clinic, or hospital in near proximity to the workplace that can be used for the treatment of all injured employees.”  (Do not forget to take into consideration Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) when you consider possible illnesses that employees could face on the job.)
  2. Determine what type of first-aid supplies and first-aid equipment are needed to address potential hazards in your office, and make sure those are readily available.  First-Aid safety kits specifically made for office environments are available.   OSHA recommends an AED – automated external defibrillator for many worksites. (Using AEDs within 3-4 minutes after SCA (sudden cardiac arrest) can lead to a 60% survival rate.)
  3. Assign and train first-aid providers with certified first-aid training suitable for that workplace, as well as periodic refresher training.  OSHA does not certify first-aid training courses.  Certified courses are offered through the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, and other national and private organizations.   Those certified employees should be given responsibility to maintain the first-aid safety supplies, so that the kit is never neglected and lacking needed items.  If an employee is expected to provide first aid as part of his or her job duties, the employee must also receive training in Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure  All certified training is recommended to be reviewed and practiced at least every 6 months for CPR and AED skills, other life-threatening emergencies every year, and non-life-threatening responses periodically.
  4. While certain employees may be designated and trained as certified first-aid providers, all employees should be instructed about the first-aid program in general, including what to do if a co-worker is injured or becomes ill.  Employee Training DVD programs are available for this type of employee training, and should include reviews, reproducible certificates of completion to keep in each employee’s file for recordkeeping purposes, have availability in Spanish or close captioned for the hearing impaired, etc.   
  5.  Schedule periodic review of your first-aid program to evaluate the program’s adequacy, as well as the inventory of the first-aid safety supplies.

Contact your local American Red Cross or American Heart Association for more information on requirements for certification.