The specific standard managers should be aware of is OSHA Standard 1910.151. The requirement is that "adequate first aid supplies shall be readily available."

First Aid Kits

You can find a basic minimum standard first aid kit in American National Standard (ANSI) Z308.1-1978.

Consider directing a responsible worker to inventory your first aid kits, and ensure they are complete, supplies have not been used up, and components are not expired. For most workplaces, the minimum standard for a generic workplace first aid kit is outlined in American National Standard (ANSI) Z308.1-1978. Specifically, a basic workplace first aid kit should include the following:

  • 16x Absorbent Compress, 32 sq. in. (No side smaller than 4")
  • 16x Adhesive Bandages, 1" x 3" 16
  • 1x Adhesive Tape, 5 yd. 1
  • 10x Antiseptic, .5g application 10
  • 6x Burn Treatment, .5g application 6
  • 2 pairs Medical Exam Gloves 2
  • 4x Sterile Pads, 3" x 3" 4
  • 1x Triangular bandage, 40" x 40" x 56" 1

Additional requirements apply to more hazardous workplaces.

Over the counter medicines are fine for inclusion in first aid kits but avoid medications that could cause drowsiness: If a worker takes one of these and has an accident soon afterwards, the implication could be that you as the employer may be culpable. If you do include over-the-counter medications, all meds should be wrapped in tamper-evident packaging as individual doses. You should not have any bottles.

If you reasonably expect workers treating other injured employees could come into contact with blood or other pathogens, you should also consider including personal protective equipment, such as latex gloves, masks, gowns and face shields.

Additionally, if your workplace contains caustic chemicals or HAZMAT, you should also make flushing or rinsing stations available for workers (OSHA Standard 1919.151(c)).

Color coding requirements

First aid kit packages should be color coded as follows:

  • Blue: Antiseptics
  • Yellow: Bandages;
  • Red: Burn Treatments;
  • Orange: Personal protective equipment
  • Green: Miscellaneous

Labeling

First aid kits need to be clearly visible and labeled as such. Generally, Type 1, 2 and 3 first aid kits should have a label with the following information:

ANSI Z308.1-1998 Type I, II or III

Caution: This kit meets ANSI Z308.1-1998 only when the

minimum is maintained with first aid products marked

"ANSI Z308.1-1998."

…and then include the minimum fill contents as described above.

Labeling must be permanent and in at least a six-point font.

An ongoing effort

Complying with the thousands of occupational health and safety regulations is a full-time job at many employers. If you have a fair number of employees, consider appointing a safety manager. This reliable individual can be responsible for creating a means to track current first aid, CPR, HAZMAT and other certifications, as well as arranging for training for individuals and supervisors.

Other possible responsibilities include inspecting first aid kids and ensuring they are adequately stocked, keeping up with new developments in the field of occupational safety and health, making recommendations to management, and documenting the firms' OSHA and state occupational safety and health compliance efforts.

For more information, visit the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's website at www.osha.gov, and your state's Department of Labor, which may have more specific requirements than the federal law.