First Aid Supplies—When, Where, What...

Many places of employment have first aid kits hung on walls of offices, break rooms, locker rooms, and production areas.  But what are some of the requirements for having these first aid kits, what should be in them, and where should they be located?

The OSHA General Industry standard 29 CFR 1910.151 Medical Services and First-Aid specifies three requirements for addressing employee matters of health:

a) Ready availability of medical personnel for advice and consultation on matters of plant health;

b) Adequately trained person or persons to render first aid, in the absence of an infirmary, clinic, or hospital in near proximity;

c) Where the eyes or body of a person could be exposed to injurious corrosive chemicals, adequate facilities for quick drenching and flushing of the eyes and body shall be readily available.

Note: Logging operations are subject to the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.266 where the mandatory inclusion at worksites and required contents are specifically identified.  See the OSHA Safety and Health Topics page for Logging for specific information for the logging industry.

If an employer has selected to have employees trained to render first aid, then the supplies must be “adequate, should reflect the kinds of injuries that occur, and must be stored in an area where they are readily available for emergency access” per the OSHA Best Practices Guide: Fundamentals of a Workplace First-Aid Program. 

The guide goes on to recommend that the minimal contents of a workplace first aid kit follow those prescribed by the American National Standards Institute ANSI Z308.1 - 2009, Minimum Requirements for Workplace First Aid Kits. The REQUIRED items are:

  • (1) First Aid Guide
  • (1) Absorbent Compress, 4" x 8" minimum
  • (16) Adhesive Bandages, 1" x 3"
  • (1) Adhesive Tape, 2.5 yard roll
  • (10) Antiseptic Treatment Applications, 0.9 gram each
  • (6) Burn Treatment Applications, 0.9 gram each
  • (4) Sterile Gauze Pads, 3" x 3"
  • (2) Pair Medical Exam Gloves
  • (1) Triangular Bandage, 40" x 40" x 56" minimum
  • (8) Antibiotic Ointment Treatment Applications, 0.5 gram each

The common ratio for these most basic kits is for there to be one kit per ten employees in the workplace at one time. For large operations, employers should determine how many first-aid kits are needed, and if it is appropriate to augment the kits with additional first-aid equipment and supplies. 

Your first aid kit should be a part of a regular inspection program to ensure that it meets these minimum requirements and that any items with expiration dates are current.  One recommendation is to give a specific person the responsibility to regularly inspect the contents of the first aid kits and ensure that adequate supplies are available in the kit based on the kind of injuries that occur in the workplace. 

For additional information on recommended practices for workplace first aid programs, see the website on Medical and First Aid or OSHA’s, available on the website.