Medical and First Aid
It is a requirement of OSHA that employees be given a safe and healthy workplace that is reasonably free of occupational hazards. However, it is unrealistic to expect accidents not to happen. Therefore, employers are required to provide medical and first aid personnel and supplies commensurate with the hazards of the workplace. The details of a workplace medical and first aid program are dependent on the circumstances of each workplace and employer. The intent of this page is to provide general information that may be of assistance. If additional information is required, an Occupational Health Professional should be contacted.
Medical and first aid services are addressed in specific standards for the general industry, shipyard employment, marine terminals, longshoring, and the construction industry.
This section highlights OSHA standards, directives (instructions for compliance officers), and standard interpretations (official letters of interpretation of the standards) related to medical and first aid.
Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.
General Industry (29 CFR 1910)
Shipyard Employment (29 CFR 1915)
- 1915.87, Medical services and first aid
Marine Terminals (29 CFR 1917)
- 1917.26, First aid and lifesaving facilities
Longshoring (29 CFR 1918)
- 1918.97, First aid and lifesaving facilities (see appendix V of this part)
Construction Industry (29 CFR 1926)
- 1926.23, First aid and medical attention
- 1926.50, Medical services and first aid
- Inspection Procedures for 29 CFR 1910.120 and 1926.65, Paragraph (q): Emergency Response to Hazardous Substance Releases. CPL 02-02-073, (2007, August 27). Also available as a 444 KB PDF, 119 pages. Updates enforcement procedures for compliance officers who need to conduct inspections of emergency response operations. It defines additional terms and expands on training requirements for emergency responders and other groups such as skilled support personnel. This OSHA instruction revises CPL 02-02-059, issued April 24, 1998.
- Logging Operations, Inspection Procedures and Interpretive Guidance Including Twelve Previously Stayed Provisions. CPL 02-01-022 [CPL 2-1.22], (1996, September 27).
- Logging Operations, Inspection Procedures and Interpretive Guidance. CPL 02-01-019 [CPL 2-1.19], (1995, March 17).
- Exposure Control Plan for OSHA Personnel with Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens. CPL 02-02-060 [CPL 2-2.60], (1994, March 7).
- 29 CFR 1910.151(c), Medical Services and First Aid; 29 CFR 1926.50 and .51, Medical Service and First Aid, and .... STD 01-08-002 [STD 1-8.2], (1982, March 8).
- American Red Cross Agreement. CPL 02-00-002 [CPL 2.2], (1978, October 30). Provides information regarding first aid training requirements and courses.
- 29 CFR 1910, Subpart T -- Commercial Diving Operations. STD 02-00-151, (2011, June 13).
- Search all available directives.
- Interpretation of the First Aid standard. (1996, December 11).
- OSHA first aid standard. (1996, March 18). Discusses frequency of training.
- Clarification of training requirements under 1910.151, (Medical Services and First Aid). (1995, July 24).
- Medical and First Aid standards. (1994, July 26). Discusses whether full face shields and access to a water hose can be used as a substitute for a commercially available eye wash facility.
- Clarification on first aid requirements for hazardous waste sites. (1993, April 20).
- Successful completion of a first aid course demonstrated by means other than a written knowledge test. (1992, September 2).
- When a lifesaving skiff is to be considered as being "immediately available". (1991, December 6).
- Standard for medical services and first aid. (1991, July 2).
- First Aid treatment required within 3 to 4 minutes of injury. (1990, June 13).
- First Aid Training. (1976, January 27).
- The following interpretations are applicable to eyewash and body flushing facilities:
- The following interpretations demonstrate the application of the bloodborne pathogens standard to first aid providers:
- Most frequently asked questions concerning the bloodborne pathogens standard. (2011, November 1).
- Bloodborne pathogens impact on non-health care industries. (1992, December 15).
- Applicability of Bloodborne Pathogens Standard to emergency responders, decontamination, housekeeping, and good samaritan acts. (1992, December 4).
- Applicability of bloodborne pathogens standard to first aid providers at electric cooperatives. (1992, October 23).
- Applicability of bloodborne pathogens standard to first aid providers at drilling operations. (1992, October 22).
- Bloodborne pathogen standard's applicability to employees of summer camps and conference/retreat centers. (1992, October 1).
- Bloodborne pathogens standard's relationship to employees trained in first aid around electrical lines. (1992, September 4).
- Search all available standard interpretations.
What is first aid?
First aid refers to medical attention that is usually administered immediately after the injury occurs and at the location where it occurred. It often consists of a one-time, short-term treatment and requires little technology or training to administer. First aid can include cleaning minor cuts, scrapes, or scratches; treating a minor burn; applying bandages and dressings; the use of non-prescription medicine; draining blisters; removing debris from the eyes; massage; and drinking fluids to relieve heat stress. OSHA's revised recordkeeping rule, which went into effect January 1, 2002, does not require first aid cases to be documented. For example: A worker goes to the first-aid room and has a dressing applied to a minor cut by a registered nurse. Although the registered nurse is a health care professional, the employer does not have to report the accident because the worker simply received first aid. The selected references below provide more information on first aid.
- Medical and First Aid - OSHA Standards. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page. Provides formal OSHA definitions of first aid and related requirements.
- First Aid. National Ag Safety Database (NASD). Provides links to a variety of first aid topics primarily related to the agriculture industry.
- Job Injuries and First Aid Training Guide. Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health (elcosh), (1994). Provides teaching guidelines and basic first aid questions aimed at recognizing hazards and controls in the workplace.
- First Aid. Mayo Clinic. Includes information for handling a variety of emergency care situations.
First Aid Programs
First aid training is primarily received through the American Heart Association, American Red Cross, National Safety Council (NSC), and private institutions. The American Heart Association, American Red Cross and NSC offer standard and advanced first aid courses via their local chapter/training centers. After completing the course and successfully passing the written and practical tests, trainees receive two certificates; (adult CPR and first aid). An emphasis on quick response to first aid situations is incorporated throughout the program. Other program elements include: basic first aid intervention, basic adult cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and universal precautions for self-protection. Specific program elements include training specific to the type of injury: shock, bleeding, poisoning, burns, temperature extremes, musculoskeletal injuries, bites and stings, medical emergencies, and confined spaces. Instruction in the principles and first aid intervention of injuries will cover the following sites: head and neck, eye, nose, mouth and teeth, chest, abdomen, and hand, finger, and foot injuries. Employers are responsible for the type, amount, and maintenance of first aid supplies needed for their particular program. The training program should be periodically reviewed with current first aid techniques and knowledge. Basic adult CPR retesting should occur every year and first aid skills and knowledge should be reviewed every three years. OSHA recommends that CPR training include having trainees develop 'hands-on' skills through the use of mannequins and partner practice. The references below provide further fundamentals to help develop and maintain first aid program and skills.
- Z358.1-2004, Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment. American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Provides requirements for eyewash facilities.
- Emergency Washing Facilities [110 KB PDF, 2 pages]. Worker's Compensation Board of Manitoba, (2008, December).
- Illness and Injury Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page. Records of first aid and medical treatments should be maintained in accordance with OSHA's recordkeeping standards.
Related Safety and Health Topics Pages
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