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Contents
Page last reviewed: 09/28/2009
Highlights
  • Best Practices Guide: Fundamentals of a Workplace First-Aid Program [163 KB PDF*, 28 pages]. OSHA Publication 3317-06N, (2006). Identifies four essential elements for first-aid programs to be effective and successful; management leadership and employee involvement, worksite analysis, hazard prevention and control, and safety and health training. It also includes best practices for planning and conducting safe and effective first-aid training.
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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.

OSHA Standards

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

Directives

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.

Additional Information

Related Safety and Health Topics Pages

Training

Other Resources


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