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Recently developed first-aid kit standards can help employers decide what type of kit, Class A or Class B, they need for their facility.

A good first-aid kit is more than just a collection of adhesive bandages. In low-risk facilities, kits should have the equipment needed to deal with common workplace injuries, such as sprains, minor cuts and scrapes. But if more high-risk tasks are being completed in your facility, you may need a more comprehensive first-aid kit.

In 2015, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) updated the standard ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2015, Workplace First Aid Kits and Supplies. The updated standard, effective in 2016, introduced two classes of first-aid kits: Class A kits, with contents designed for the most common types of workplace injuries, and Class B kits, which are designed for more complex injuries or for use in high-risk environments.

“In deciding how best to meet the needs of workers, we looked at the increasing rates of workplace incidents where first-aid treatment was administered and we considered the current practices in treating such injuries,” said David Lapp, chairman of ISEA First Aid Group and senior product manager at Honeywell Safety Products, when the standard was introduced.

Class A Vs. Class B First-Aid Kits

Erica Osley, marketing director for eye, face and head products with Honeywell Industrial Safety, notes in OH&S that the 2015 standard “represents a fundamental shift in the way employers will approach injury readiness.”

“It starts with a foundation built upon supplying the right assortment of first-aid items based on possible injuries and the appropriate quantity of items based on the number of workers each kit will serve,” she says.

Osley says Class A kits are best suited for low-risk workplaces with 40 or fewer employees. Typically, a Class A first-aid contents checklist would include 71 items, such as:

  • Adhesive bandages
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Breathing barrier
  • Burn treatments
  • Eyewash
  • Hand sanitizer

Class B kits are designed for higher-risk environments such as heavy manufacturing and foundries. According to Osley, a Class B first-aid kit contents checklist would include Class A kit items in greater quantities, as well as additional products designed to “triage serious or life-threatening injuries,” such as:

  • A padded splint
  • A tourniquet

What’s Required in First-Aid Kits Now?

 The 2015 standard updates a previous standard from 2009. Osley says many items that had previously been only recommended for inclusion in both kits are now required.

Among the changes is a requirement that both classes of kits should now include scissors, a breathing barrier, burn dressing, cold pack, eye covering, skin wash, and hand sanitizer. In addition to requiring a splint and tourniquet, Class B kits must also now include 4-inch roller bandage in addition to the 2-inch roller bandage now required for Class A kits.

The quantities of supplies are also different. For instance, under the old standard, first-aid kits required six burn treatments. Under the new standard, Class A kits require 10 burn treatments, while Class B kits require 25.

“By expanding the items in a basic first-aid kit, employees will have greater access to items needed to treat their injuries as quickly as possible,” Lapp said.

Want more information on first-aid kits? Read “Safety Standard Spotlight: First-Aid Kits” to learn how OSHA 300 logs and 301 incident reports can help.

New Classification Types of Class A and Class B First-Aid Kits

The standard also designates different types of kits for different work environments. According to First Aid Only, uses break down as such:

  • Type I kits are designed for indoor use and are not portable; they’re permanently mounted to a wall or other structure. They are for general indoor use, office use or use in a general manufacturing facility.
  • Type II kits are designed for indoor use, but come with handles and are portable. As with Type 1 kits, they’re for general indoor use, office use or manufacturing environments.
  • Type III kits are portable and for use in either indoor or outdoor environments, but not where there is a high potential for damage due to environmental factors or rough handling. The kits can be mounted and have a water-resistant seal. They are for general indoor use and sheltered outdoor use.
  • Type IV kits, which must pass tests for corrosion, moisture and impact resistance, are suitable for outdoor use and places where they may be subject to rough handling. They are designed for use in the transportation, utility and construction industries or in the armed forces.

“The multi-tiered approach of designating kits allows employers to make practical choices based on the nature of the work area, recognizing that each workplace differs in potential risk and task load,” Lapp said.

Conduct Assessing Risk to Tailor First-Aid Kits to Your Workplace

In addition to laying out the requirements for first-aid kit contents, the new ISEA standard sets requirements for employers to assess the risks in their workplace, says Osley. This is to ensure that the types and quantities of supplies on hand meet the needs of an individual facility.

“Risk assessments can be conducted in a variety of ways, from reviewing BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) injury data to employing a medical professional to evaluate a facility and make recommendations; the best approach is an informed approach and may involve a combination of inputs,” writes Osley. “This mandated assessment of possible injuries and appropriate first response protocols is key to tailoring first-aid kits based on each workplace’s unique risk factors.”

What first-aid supplies do you rely on the most? Share your experience.

Talk to Us!

Now I know that class B first aid kits are for more serious medical conditions or situations and are meant for environments that have a higher possibility for accidents and other dangers. If I manage workplace high-risk environments, I would really understand how trained medical attendants are important for the safety of employees as it also heavily affects the company. It would be nice if attendants are also trained with level-3 first respondent skills so everyone can do their job with peace of mind. 

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