Terry McDonald: Site Safety

In a past column the author advocated keeping a first aid kit on site, and tailoring its contents to your needs. Still, there are basic supplies that should be on hand. Here are some ideas you might find helpful.

I read an article recently discussing guns in the workplace. Now, I don’t know about you, but the very idea of such a thing made my blood run cold. It seems that the more we progress toward making the workplace a safer environment for all of us, the more some groups seem to want to undermine those efforts. There are a number of states with laws on the books that address carrying concealed guns, and this allows registered owners to carry them on themselves or to have them in their vehicle. Even though you, as the property owner, can usually prevent guns from being present in your buildings, it is difficult—if not impossible—to prevent them from being in the vehicles your employees drive to work and leave parked in the lot. This is a very difficult situation, especially since we’ve all seen volatile conditions develop in our facilities at times due to an employee having a bad day, for whatever reason, and with firearms so readily available the situation could rapidly accelerate into a very dangerous one. I suggest that those of you who’ve found yourselves in this type of situation immediately have company-wide meetings requesting the cooperation of all of your employees in leaving any guns they may own at home. It’s important to emphasize that none of us really want to endanger our fellow employees, after all.
Okay, I’m off my soapbox now. Last month we began discussing the importance of having a well stocked and properly equipped first aid supply kit available for our employees. I feel that I need to discuss this subject a little further. What are the proper first aid supplies we need to have on hand? I hope this will trigger some ideas of your own, as any list created by one company will need to be modified for each individual situation. Anyway, here are some suggestions:
1) Standard first aid kit equipped for the requisite number of employees;
2) Band-Aids and gauze pads in larger sizes than those usually furnished in the kits;
3) An eyewash station;
4) Blankets;
5) Sterile gloves for responders;
6) A stretcher or some other mode of transporting the injured;
7) Extra eye protection such as safety glasses and/or face shields;
8) Sterile compresses for burns;
9) An automated external defibrillator, or AED;
10) Portable oxygen.
I feel that these 10 items are an important starting point, and I have them available in my own workplace. I am willing to bet that you can add to this list with ease, based on the activities being conducted in your own facility.
One of the most important items to have in a first aid kit is a checklist of the contents, along with the quantities you need to keep in stock. This checklist should be up to date and have space for noting the last time it was confirmed that everything listed is actually available in the kit. Remember, this material is going to have to be replaced and updated on a regular basis. I have noticed in some facilities that first aid stations or supplies are often tucked away in a corner where they will not be damaged. While the intentions are good, these areas usually aren’t lit very well, making it difficult to access in a hurry… which is usually the case whenever we really need it. I suggest establishing a well-lighted, centralized first aid area in your shop. This is much more conducive to proper safety practices than hiding it away, and it will result in a safer and friendlier experience for your employees.

Of course, the most important item required is at least one fully trained first responder who is available whenever someone is present and working in your facility. This requirement is not negotiable. The need for a trained first responder could mean the difference between a relatively minor accident and a full-blown major incident. It can actually mean the difference between the life and death of a human being, and even whether your business survives the incident or not. 
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is partner and manager of Repair Parts, Inc., and a current member and past–chairman of the American National Standards Institute B11.11 Subcommittee on Safety Requirements for Construction, Care, and Use of Gear Cutting Equipment. McDonald writes this monthly column specifically for Gear Solutions magazine, and he can be reached at (815) 968–4499 or rpi@repair–parts–inc.com. The company's Web site is [www.repair–parts–inc.com].