Medical and first aid services are addressed in specific standards for the general industry, shipyard employment, marine terminals, long shoring, and the construction industry. This page highlights OSHA standards, directives (instructions for compliance officers), and standard interpretations (official letters of interpretation of the standards) related to medical and first aid.
Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act, often referred to as the General Duty Clause, requires employers to “furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees”. Section 5(a)(2) requires employers to “comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act”.
Note: Twenty-four 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.
Hands-on Skills Training Must Be Included
In a recent letter of interpretation, OSHA held that online First Aid and CPR courses must contain hands-on training to comply with OSHA requirements for such training. Here is the August 2, 2012 letter.
First aid training is primarily received through the American Red Cross, the National Safety Council (NSC), and private institutions. The 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. 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.
ANSI Standard Z358.1-2004 - Emergency Eyewash & Shower Equipment. Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health Division Standards Information Sheet Bulletin, (2004), 33 KB PDF, 2 pages. Includes a summary of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) requirements.
Recordkeeping. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page. Records of first aid and medical treatments should be maintained in accordance with OSHA’s recordkeeping standards.