Depending on what type of business you have, the likelihood of accidents will vary significantly. Almost nowhere, however, will be 100% accident-proof, and therefore some degree of accident response infrastructure and medical supplies are all but necessary. From small first aid kits and wet floor signs right up to defibrillators and more serious accident response equipment, any workplace will need at least some degree of medical equipment. And not only for the benefit of their employees but in order to stay on the right side of the law as well.
And speaking of the law, most governments and jurisdictions that regulate workplace safety will also provide a set of best practice guidelines for workplace safety for each distinct industrial and commercial sector. Given how much these can vary – a café is quite a different workplace from a construction site – it is impossible to be exhaustive about what specific medical or health and safety equipment you will require in each case. Accordingly, your best bet is to look up the guidelines for your workplace type and the jurisdiction in which you live. This information is always readily available and will help you a lot.
That said, workplace medical and safety equipment is an area of expertise over which some general rules can be drawn. Any place of work that is indoors will require a fire escape plan, for example, and assessing the risk of accidents in each case follows a general principle that is broadly the same across industries. So for the specifics, you’re better to look up official regulation, but there’s a great deal you can learn from the general rules and principles that guide policy on medical and safety equipment, regardless of where it is being applied.
The main reason you will require medical equipment in your workplace is that all workplaces – regardless of their type or scale – are required to have at least a fire safety program and a first aid kit for use in the case of accidents. This means that at least some degree of emergency medical equipment is required in all cases.
For the lowest risk workplaces, this means a single first aid point for administering light medical aid either for non-serious accidents or for administering emergency first aid before an ambulance arrives. Unsurprisingly, this is required by law.
Of course, many other workplaces that are perceived to pose a higher employee risk than is typical will have to provide significantly more in the way of medical equipment and safety infrastructure. The so-called “first aid arrangements” for such workplaces are normally determined by means of a first-aid assessment.
A first aid assessment will include consideration of three basic things:
- the workplace
- the workforce
- the hazards and the risks present.
This is also the order in which these things should be considered. So first off, what type of workplace do you have? Are there long corridors where slipping is likelier than elsewhere? Is there any heavy or high-powered machinery that could potentially cause an accident? Are there any fall hazards such as steep stairs, balconies, and so on?
You should also consider whether the cleaning routine in your workplaces poses any particular hazards. For example, how potentially hazardous is a mopped floor in the different parts of your building. A mopped floor in a small cupboard is less hazardous, for example, than a mopped floor on the landing of steep staircase. Normally, this will necessitate wet floor signs or even safety barriers in certain areas. Not only will this be to prevent accidents, but also to respond to them appropriately wherever they may arise.
Build a Best Program
Following a first-aid assessment, you should aim to build a medical response and safety program based upon your findings and in accordance with legal regulations in your jurisdiction. You might wish to consult the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in order to do so effectively.
The OSHA guidelines suggest that you choose and assign a first-aid provider based upon your business type. This will in turn dictate what type of medical equipment you need to install. And after this has been done, a consultation with your employees is essential. It is probably asking too much – and a little unnecessary – to train every employee in the administration of first aid, but you should always have someone on the premises who is able to use the equipment you have installed following an assessment of your workplace risks and deference to official guidelines such as OSHA.
Something that every employee should be aware of though is where the medical equipment is situated and how to use that equipment designed for an emergency response. You cannot rely on one or two specially trained employees to always be instantly available, therefore every employee should have a basic knowledge of what medical equipment is available to hand and how to use it. Organizations like the American Red Cross supply basic training programs to employees as well as assistance for offices planning their medical and safety infrastructure programs.
Install a Defibrillator
One item of medical equipment is perhaps due a special mention. We have already said that what medical equipment is necessary will vary greatly depending on the workplace, but some items are a very good idea in nearly all cases. A defibrillator is one such item of medical equipment.
Automated external defibrillators are widely available and a very useful item of office medical equipment. The reason you should consider one regardless of what type of business you have is that anyone – in any job and at any time – can have a cardiac arrest. You can think of this particular risk as universal and therefore having a defibrillator to hand as universally a good idea. All employees can be trained to effectively use one of these devices. They do not require any complex or special expertise and they are known to increase survival rates in cases of cardiac arrest by up to 40%.
Stock Up and Be Ready
A final general tip to finish on might be that you should always keep yourself stocked up with the medical supplies you require based upon the medical equipment that you have installed.
As mentioned, it is difficult to be too specific when it comes to recommending a medical or safety infrastructure for your place of work. Yet by following this basic outline of procedure – assessment, implementation, employee education – you can be sure that everything else will fall into place pretty quickly. And you will be thankful for it in the long run.