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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has certain requirements regarding first aid and CPR preparedness in the workplace.

"The employer shall ensure the ready availability of medical personnel for advice and consultation on matters of plant health." Compliance with the "ready availability of medical personnel" may mean providing training for employees to have on-site medical assistance.

Part (b) of the same requirement states, "In the absence of an infirmary, clinic, or hospital in near proximity to the workplace which is used for the treatment of all injured employees, a person or persons shall be adequately trained to render first aid." Furthermore, OSHA has interpreted "near proximity" to mean 4-6 minutes from injury to medical care in "In areas where accidents resulting in suffocation, severe bleeding, or other life threatening or permanently disabling injury or illness can be expected." If injuries like these are not common, then OSHA considers it reasonable to have response times as long as 15 minutes. Compliance with the training requirements for OSHA standard 1910.151 include CPR only as a recommendation, while the standards listed above state CPR must be included.

How Does This Affect Your Workplace?

If your workplace meets one of the specific industries listed above, then you must provide training in first aid and CPR for at least one employee to be able to respond at all times.

If your workplace is in any other industry, OSHA compliance means you must look at the likelihood of injury for your industry. The Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website provides injury statistics for several industries.

Remember that industries with a high incidence of injury must have medical care to the employee within four to six minutes. Since emergency medical services use an eight minute response time standard for metropolitan areas, employers in high injury industries need to provide first aid training to employees. Rural ambulance response times are significantly longer. OSHA compliance for employers in those areas - even with low incidences of injuries - means they will need to offer first aid training (and possibly designate a first aid person). Contact your local emergency medical service provider to determine an expected response time for 911 calls in your area.

Any concerns about OSHA compliance for your industry should prompt you to provide first aid and CPR training to employees. Training should be maintained on a regular basis; OSHA suggests updating training for life-threatening emergencies (CPR) every year and updating training for non-life-threatening incidents (first aid) periodically. OSHA has partnered with the American Red Cross (ARC) to determine training standards. ARC recommends updating first aid training every three years and updating CPR every year.

Providing first aid and CPR training is just one step in developing a first aid program for your workplace. Employers are also required to provide the tools and supplies necessary to provide first aid. If certain individuals in your workplace are designated for medical response, then the employer is required to develop a bloodborne pathogen exposure control procedure.
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