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What Qualifies as OSHA First Aid?

November 30, 2021
June 21, 2023
Green square and white cross symbol with FIRST AID text below

The vast majority of people have probably received some sort of first aid training at some point in our lives. From a brief outline of first aid in our high school health course, to a quick, 2-hour training at a former job, the basics of first aid are relatively well known throughout society. Despite that fact, however, there is an unfortunate lack of acceptable first aid practices in many businesses around the country.

According to an article published by The Guardian
“Up to 150,000 people a year could be dying unnecessarily because first aid is not widely enough
known, a charity warns today. Situations where first aid could potentially make a difference
include suffocations due to blocked airways, which claim 2,500 lives every year, and heart
attacks, which kill 29,000.”

Furthermore, one recent poll found that “63 percent of Americans are not confident that they know how to operate an automated external defibrillator (AED) and only 54 percent said they know how to perform CPR.” For this reason, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has strict requirements about what every first aid training program needs to include.

Below, we outline the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s First Aid Standard and explain why your company should work with organizations that provide certified, OSHA first aid training.

How Does OSHA Define First Aid?

According to the OSHA website

“First aid refers to medical attention that is usually administered immediately after the injury occurs and at the location where it occurred. It often consists of a one-time, short-term treatment and requires little technology or training to administer.” 

Though many people associate first aid with defibrillators and CPR, basic first aid practices can include: 

  • Cleaning and disinfecting minor cuts, scrapes, wounds, or scratches 
  • Treating minor burns
  • Applying bandages and dressings to serious wounds to prevent infection, 
  • The use of non-prescription medicines,
  • Draining painful blisters and other skin eruptions,  
  • Removing painful and dangerous debris from the eyes,
  • Administering drinking fluids to relieve heat stress

As of January 1, 2002, OSHA does not require companies to document or report minor first aid cases. This means that minor workplace injuries, such as a minor burn on a machine or a fall that resulted in a moderate cut do not have to be reported, even if the employee receives on-site first aid attention. For companies that are concerned about OSHA compliance, it is important to discern what is an OSHA first aid injury, as compared to more serious injuries that do require documentation and reporting.

Whereas first aid injuries are treated on site and usually have little or no long-term effects, OSHA defines workplaces injuries as “an abnormal condition or disorder for OSHA recordkeeping purposes. Injuries include cases such as, but not limited to, a cut, fracture, sprain, or amputation.”  In general, then, first aid injuries are those that require only a single first aid treatment, do not ordinarily require medical care, and allow the employee to return immediately to their job tasks and everyday lives without any lasting repercussions.

Importance of Working with Certified First Aid Providers

OSHA recommends, but does not require, that every workplace and business have at least one or more employees who are trained and certified in first aid, including CPR. Proper first aid treatment is also an important part of a holistic employee wellness program. Workers generally appreciate a solid first aid program, as this shows that their employers care about their health and wellbeing.

When organizing a first aid training program for your employees, this OSHA guide on the fundamentals of a workplace first aid program offers a thorough outline of what should be included. Alternatively, you may also decide to hire a third party contractor to help your company develop a first aid program that follows the best practices in first aid.

OSHA-Approved Workplace First Aid Starts With Work-Fit

Work-Fit  is one leading company that offers onsite injury prevention and management for your workforce. As the nationwide leader in applying sports medicine techniques in the workplace to prevent injuries and increase your company's bottom line, Work-Fit can help your company design and implement a thorough first aid program, no matter what industry you are in.

Our injury prevention program can also help to generate important savings for your company by promoting a preventive care model that increases productivity rates while also creating savings on employer healthcare costs.

If you are interested in developing a high-quality first aid program for your workplace, contact Work-Fit today to learn about how they can help your team.


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