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How to Set Up a First Aid Room

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Sometimes known as a sick bay, a first aid room serves as the initial line of treatment for employees who become ill or injured while at work. Each state sets its own regulations on when a first aid room is required, who can staff it, and what first aid equipment it should contain, so be sure to check on legal requirements. In general, however, first aid staff should be available in even small workplaces, and a separate first aid room is advisable for large work sites and those that present occupational hazards.

Here is a basic guide to setting up your first aid room.

Location

A first aid room should be easy to access, not only for those who are ambulatory, but for people using wheelchairs or other mobility devices. Both the first aid room and the adjoining corridors must be wide enough to accommodate a stretcher. Floor space requirements vary by state, but 14 square metres is a good rule of thumb. The room must be clearly marked by visible signage.

Facilities

A first aid room should have accessible toilet and sink facilities either inside the room or very close by. A screen or door is necessary for privacy. The room should provide adequate ventilation and lighting, as well as heating and cooling, and should provide several electrical power points. The floor must be of a material that is easy to clean.

Staff

State regulations govern first aid staff training and certification requirements. At a minimum, the first aid room should be overseen by someone with a valid Occupational First Aid certificate. If that person is not always on site, contact information should be prominently posted in the first aid room. The more employees you have and the more risks the workplace presents, the more staff you need. Large companies and those that perform very risky work should be overseen by an Occupational Health Nurse.

Furnishings

A first aid room should provide the standard furnishings required to properly examine and treat patients. A proper examination couch with a waterproof surface and disposable coverings is important. The room also needs a desk or table with at least one chair. Cabinets or cupboards for storage and some sort of rolling trolley are also required. A working telephone and contact information for all first aiders employed at that location, along with a duty chart that shows who is on duty each day, are vital for communication.

Basic Equipment

A first aid room should contain a National Workplace First Aid Kit , examination gloves, hand sanitiser, paper towels, a trash can, and an incident log book. The room also needs items for safe collection of soiled materials including a lined container for disposing of contaminated waste and a sharps container. Other items, such as an examination lamp with a magnifier, can help first aiders perform their jobs. A defibrillator and an oxygen resuscitation kit, along with wall-mounted posters that demonstrate their use, are extremely useful and may be required in some states.

Specialised Equipment

Every work site presents its own risks, so a full risk management assessment is needed to determine exactly what sorts of equipment your location requires. For example, sites that handle toxic chemicals might have an eye wash station and perhaps a decontamination shower. Consider a consultation with a professional occupational risk assessor to be sure you are prepared for workplace accidents.

Procedures and Employee Training

Even the most well-equipped first aid room is virtually worthless if it is not properly utilized. Based on your risk assessment, work with your designated first aid room supervisor to develop policies and procedures for employees to follow in different situations. Ensure that all first aid certified personnel are familiar with the room and know how to use all of the equipment. Train all of your staff on your first aid procedures, including who to contact if a co-worker is injured. Consider holding emergency drills on a regular basis to keep all staff up-to-date on how to respond to various situations.

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