It’s important that a business meets OSHA first aid kit requirements, not just to avoid being criminally liable in the event of an accident or injury but also because a properly stocked first aid kit has the potential to save lives and prevent or reduce the lasting harm that severe injuries can cause. Note, however, that a first aid kit is only useful if a company makes sure that workers on site are trained in its use and know where it is.
OSHA First Aid Requirements
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is tasked with setting rules that help ensure employees and other workers are safe. One of the many things OSHA has done in pursuit of this goal is set the mandatory minimally acceptable number and type of first-aid supplies for an on-site first aid kit. Their requirements are as follows:
Directions for requesting emergency assistance
Resuscitation equipment such as resuscitation bag, airway, or pocket mask
Wound cleaning agent, such as sealed moistened towelettes
Gauze pads (at least 4 x 4 inches)
Two large gauze pads (at least 8 x 10 inches)
One package gauze roller bandage, at least 2 inches wide
Two triangular bandages
Two elastic wraps
Box of adhesive bandages
At least one blanket
Note that this minimum is intended to be adequate for small work sites. OSHA states in their guidelines that a kit meeting these requirements should be suitable for a site consisting of approximately two to three employees. For multiple or larger work sites, the number of kits and the supplies in a given kit need to be scaled up appropriately.
These minimum requirements assume a generic work site, so don’t necessarily fulfill any additional requirements a company may be obligated to meet. If a company has work sites with fairly unique hazards that are not common of a standard work site, they may have additional requirements. States may also set additional requirements a company needs to meet.
This is why it is important to research the specific rules and guidelines a company is obligated to meet. This article is not a replacement for professional legal advice.
Why Are OSHA First Aid Kit Requirements Important?
OSHA’s first aid kit requirements aren’t arbitrarily set. They are intended to establish the minimum that a first aid kit is likely to need to help someone who is trained in first aid to suitably provide such aid to people injured in the workplace.
These rules are designed to prevent minor incidents from causing lasting harm. For more severe injuries, a properly stocked first aid kit, in addition to a person trained in first aid, can help turn an incident that would have been fatal or otherwise extremely severe into something the injured individual or individuals can eventually recover from.
Importantly, a first aid kit doesn’t necessarily need to be equipped so a person can be fully treated for a given injury on site (although this is often possible for more minor injuries). Instead, one of the most important jobs of a first aid kit is to buy time for those severely injured in the workplace until emergency medical professionals arrive.
As has been touched on earlier, this also highlights why it’s likewise important that a business keeps its employees trained in the use of their first aid kits and adopts some best practices to maximize the value and efficacy of first aid in emergency situations. A first aid kit is of little use if nobody on site knows how to use it in the event of an injury.
Furthermore, having only one person on site who is knowledgeable in first aid isn’t enough. If that individual is hurt, there needs to be another person on site to help them. Holding regular training sessions for employees ensures everyone is updated on best practices and procedures.
Potential Consequences for Failing to Meet OSHA’s Requirements
Theoretically, the maximum penalty for a violation of OSHA regulations is $15,625 per violation. However, a company will not generally face such a fine for an improperly stocked first aid kit. Such a fine is generally for more severe acts of negligence.
However, an improperly stocked (or complete lack) of a first aid kit could potentially land a company a fine and/or open them up to charges of negligence. It will also greatly strengthen the case of any worker or the family of a worker if they were injured in a workplace incident and decide to take legal action. This is particularly true if the improperly stocked first aid kit resulted in more severe harm than would likely have occurred if the company had met OSHA’s requirements.
Alsco Can Manage Your First Aid Needs
At Alsco, we offer first cabinet rental services that will allow a company to pay a low weekly price for a worry-free service that will keep their first aid cabinet fully stocked and compliant with the minimum workplace standards for OSHA and ANSI/ISEA. We offer a variety of prepackaged grab-and-go modules that provide supplies to handle everything from minor wounds like cuts and scrapes to more serious wounds, like burns and eye wounds.
Contact us today to learn about our first aid kit services as well as our complete facility management services. We’re ready to answer any questions you may have.
Appendix A to § 1910.266 - First-Aid Kits (Mandatory). (September 1995). Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
OSHA's requirement to provide first aid supplies specific to the needs of the workplace. (February 2007). Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
US Department of Labor announces annual adjustments to OSHA civil penalties for 2023. (January 2023). Occupational Safety and Health Administration.