Responding to Emergencies in the Workplace

Federal labor law for occupational safety and health (29 CFR 1910.15) requires that all workplaces not within “near proximity” to an infirmary, clinic or hospital have at least one person trained to render first aid and that adequate first aid supplies be available for such events. Who in your company is trained to give first aid? Is their certification current? What should you have in your first aid kit? When was the last time someone checked to see if it was up-to-date or if the packaging had yellowed?
Questions of health and safety for your employees can become overwhelming. But preparing for an emergency can be done with a three-pronged attack: prevention, equipment, and training.
The best emergency to have is the one that you prevented. It is important to take the time to review the safety of your workplace and identify any potential dangers that your employees are subjected to. Ask yourself, “How can someone get hurt or killed at work? How can I make this safer?” Ask your most skilled employees who participate in the processes on an everyday basis the same questions. Better yet, bring in a health and safety professional to “audit” the safety of your company.

Your first aid kit should be stocked with materials to help care for the most common emergencies. If there is a potential for serious injury such as severe bleeding, make sure you have sufficient body substance isolation, gauze, roller bandages and blankets. It is most important that everyone who works at your facility is familiar with the kit and everything inside.

It is also important that you make sure each item in your first aid kit is up-to-date and in good condition. I suggest that you do regular checks yourself. If anyone else makes a mistake, you are still the person responsible for the condition of that first aid kit and the availability of first aid supplies.

Most victims of sudden cardiac arrest can often be revived by quick defibrillation (within 3 minutes) with an AED. CPR can help extend this window for a few minutes. If you have an AED, keep it centrally located to ensure rapid deployment to all parts of your facility. Consider multiple units if it will take more than three minutes to retrieve and setup anywhere in your location. Make sure your AED pads are always within their expiration date and that the battery is still good.

Having an emergency in your business may be one of the scariest moments of your career. How you handle that moment will be determined by how much you have prepared. EVERYONE in your workplace should have training in CPR/AED, basic first aid, and blood and air borne pathogens. Hold frequent drills so that everyone knows what their role will be during the emergency. Seek help from a rescue professional to help you think of different scenarios and how to handle them. No one should die at work.

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