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Safety Articles

Article # 8100

Emergency Medicine! First Aid in the Workplace

When your plant is located more than 30 miles from the nearest doctor, first aid is more than just a practical necessity - it 's a matter of life and death. Just ask James Laraby, safety and training supervisor for an electric company. "In such a remote location, we need to have an extensive first aid response system, the best supplies, and thorough training," says Laraby.

In addition to having trained Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) on site 24 hours a day, Laraby also has a network of first aid emergency stations and a fully equipped ambulance standing by. According to Laraby, the most important aspect of first aid is preventing injuries from occurring in the first place.

But even with proper training, accidents happen. When someone is injured at the electric company, they are instructed to call an emergency telephone number, which is on a dedicated line to the plant's main control room. "If there is an injury, our people have been instructed to use that line, which is manned 24 hours a day," says Laraby. "When a call comes in, the control room dispatches an EMT."

When the EMT arrives on the scene, they are prepared to provide all types of first aid. At this electric company, the EMTs are trained at first aid, confined space rescue, and hazardous material response. Once the victim is stabilized, he can be transferred to one of the many first aid stations located throughout the plant. If necessary, the victim can be dispatched to the hospital in the plant's ambulance , or in extreme emergencies, airlifted by helicopter.

First Aid and OSHA
According to OSHA, all employers are required to ensure the ready availability of medical personnel for advice and consultation on matters of plant health. If no infirmary, clinic, or hospital is in near proximity to the workplace, OSHA requires that a person (or persons) be adequately trained to render first aid. First aid supplies approved by a consulting physician are also a government requirement. Where the eyes or body of a worker may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body are also required by OSHA.

In addition to OSHA 'S requirements, the design, development, distribution, and sale of drugs and items listed as medical devices is controlled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The specific requirements are listed under the FDA's Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) code, which is broken into two basic sections:

The GMP from manufacturing facilities, which includes requirements for cleanliness, production run scheduling, and inventory isolation to avoid the intermixing of products.

The GMP for distribution, which includes requirements specifying lot number production controls to assure full traceability of products and components, which enable a recall to be effectively accomplished in the event it becomes necessary.

Most shop accidents can be handled with simple first aid measures. While first aid measures alleviate most common pain, they are in no way meant to replace the attention of a physician if the injury is more than minor.