Notes from the field: You really don’t need a designer first-aid kit

By: July 24th, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

When I do my mock OSHA inspections, I always ask to see the staff first-aid kit. The majority of the time the staff will tell me they use the STAT kit required by the insurance carriers.

I proceed to inform them that OSHA regulations/guidelines pertain to the employees, not the patients. OSHA requires that all medical workplaces have supplies to handle minor emergencies. OSHA requires a separate, readily available, first-aid kit for employee injuries.

During this last inspection, the manager smiled broadly and stated that she had personally bought the first-aid kit. She left the room to retrieve the kit.

The Manager returned with a metal box that had a handle. It had the writing “approved by OSHA” printed on the front.  Everything in it was a brand name item, individually wrapped.  The cost? $75.00!

I hated to burst her bubble, but kindly told her that her first-aid kit was over the top.  I told her that OSHA was just as happy with a plastic lunch box style first-aid kit that can be purchased at any local department store for about $10.00.

As long as the required contents are included in the kit, this less expensive version is also “approved” by OSHA. The required contents are:

  • Absorbent compress- 32 sq. in. wide with no side smaller than 4″- (1)
  • Adhesive bandages- 1×3 in. (16)
  • Adhesive tape, 5 yds. (1)
  • Antiseptic- 0.5 g (0.14 fl.oz.) application (10)
  • Burn treatment- 0.5g (0.14 fl.oz.) application (6)
  • Medical exam gloves- (4)
  • Sterile pad- 3×3 in. (4)
  • Triangular bandage- 40x40x56 in. (1)
  • Directions for requesting emergency assistance. (if a caregiver is not available)

Remember to clearly mark the box as “Staff First-Aid Kit,” and store it in a location that can be reached and seen by all staff members.


By Gene Scott on July 24th, 2009 at 10:58 am

Is a kit like this required for a hospital based laboratory that has an Emergency Department just down the hall?

By Brenda Halberstadt on July 27th, 2009 at 11:38 am

Is a separate kit needed if we have an office procedure room with all of the items needed. Any problems, we just the office OR.

By Kathy Rooker on July 27th, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Yes, you should have a basic first aid kit in the Laboratory. The guidelines say that a “staff first aid kit” be readily accessible for minor incidents/injuries. The employees should not be required to walk down the hall for first aid supplies.

By Kathy Rooker on July 27th, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Yes, you need a first aid kit aside from the supplies in your procedure room. The staff member should be able to retrieve the first aid kit and not have to look through cabinets and drawers for the needed medical supplies.

Could you please give me the standard that would relate to this regulation? I have a few “where is it written” types in my facilities and would like to be able to provide them with this information.

By David LaHoda on July 28th, 2009 at 6:06 pm

While Medical Services and First Aid, 1910.151(b) is short on specifics, it does say, “Adequate first aid supplies shall be readily available.”

You could make the argument that healthcare facilities are full of first aid supplies, but that doesn’t mean they are readily available or quickly accessible in a first aid or emergency type situation, which makes having first aid kits good for compliance.

Another source that goes into more specifics is OSHA’s Best Practice Guide: Fundamentals of a Workplace First-Aid which advises employers to assign a staff member the responsibility to assess, choose and maintain supplies or kits which are “readily available for emergency access.”


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