Employers have a responsibility to provide healthy workplaces, for both the well-being of the employees and the efficiency of the enterprises. In most instances, the availability of adequate first-aid kits provides nothing more than the assurance of reduced risk. However, in certain emergencies, access to the bandages, antiseptic, gauze, and other items found in these assemblages can mitigate injuries entirely or act as temporary abatements before professional help can be reached.
Workplace first aid kits often are promoted as “ANSI,” “ANSI-compliant,” “Class A ANSI,” or “Class B ANSI,” but, since ANSI does not develop standards, this usage is somewhat erroneous. Instead, these products generally are trying to indicate compliance with ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2015: American National Standard – Minimum Requirements for Workplace First Aid Kits and Supplies, which was published by the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA), an ANSI-accredited standards developing organization.
ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2015 establishes minimum performance specifications for first aid kits and their supplies. These are intended for use in various work environments, and their classification is based on the anticipated number of users, the complexity of the work environment, and the level of hazards. The containers are classified by portability, ability to be mounted, resistance to water, and corrosion and impact resistance.
At the legislative level, other than CFR 1910.266(d)(2) for logging operations, there are no requirements for the actual count of items in workplace first aid kits. However, there are specific legal requirements set by OSHA for workplace first aid kits for shipyard employment, marine terminals, longshoring, and the construction industry.
Alternatively, ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2015, a voluntary consensus standard, does set the assortment of items and the quantity of each item in workplace first aid kits, and this distribution is based on their classification.
Class A Kits
Under this designation, Class A first aid kits are intended to provide a basic range of products to deal with most common types of injuries encountered in the workplace. Examples include major wounds, minor wounds (such as cuts and abrasions), minor burns, and eye injuries. Any first aid kit designated Class A must contain the assortment of compliant supplies in the quantities specified in Table 1 of ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2015. Table 1 also identifies the minimum size or volume of these items.
These materials include adhesive bandages, adhesive tape, antibiotic application, antiseptic, breathing barrier, burn dressing, burn treatment, cold pack, eye covering, first aid guide, hand sanitizer, medical exam gloves, eye/skin wash, roller bandage, scissors, sterile pads, trauma pads, and triangular bandages.
Class B Kits
These are intended to provide broader range and quantity of supplies to deal with injuries that personnel may encounter in more populated, complex, and/or high-risk work environments. The supplies and quantities for Class B first aid kits are also found in Table 1 of ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2015.
First aid kits designated Class B contain two items not found in Class A ones: a splint and a tourniquet. They also possess all the items found in Class A kits, but in greater quantities.
Types of First Aid Kit Containers
ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2015 specifies the containers for first aid kits as follows:
Type I first aid kits are to be used in stationary, indoor settings. Therefore, they are generally not intended to be portable, and they are found in a mounted, fixed position. Rough handling and environmental factors are intended to be minimal.
Type II first aid kits are meant for portable use indoors. The potential for damage of kit supplies is minimal.
Type III first aid kits are meant for portable use in mobile, indoor, and/or outdoor settings. The damage of kit supplies is not probable. These kits have a water-resistant seal, and they can be mounted in a fixed position.
Type IV first aid kits are intended for portable use in mobile industries and/or outdoor settings. Potential damage to kit supplies is significant, due to environmental factors and rough handling. These kits have a means to be mounted. Because of their risky environments, Type IV kits need to meet the performance guidelines for corrosion, moisture, and impact resistance laid out in ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2015.
In addition to the grades and types of workplace first aid kit containers, ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2015 details information for first aid items and labeling. It also features a normative appendix that serves as a first aid guide and an informative appendix on the maintenance of first aid supplies.
ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2015: American National Standard – Minimum Requirements for Workplace First Aid Kits and Supplies is available on the ANSI Webstore.