The Basics: First Aid Kits 101

Imagine the following scenario: A recently hired employee at your business accidentally trips over a cord and falls down a short staircase. Other employees notice the commotion and rush to help the worker who has opened a serious wound on her arm. While some people try to stop the bleeding with napkins, no one can seem to find a first aid kit with gauze, bandages, and other essential first aid items that could help get the bleeding under control while medical personnel arrive. This hypothetical situation could quickly turn into a serious medical emergency. 

Accidents happen, no matter what training or preparedness policies you have in place at your worksite. One obvious necessity for any workplace is the basic first aid kit. First-aid kits are nothing new. They go back over 100 years to when, as the story goes, Robert Wood Johnson debuted the first-aid cabinet in 1888. But what exactly should you have stocked?

It is important to have a well-stocked and maintained first-aid kit because there are certain things you need to have on hand in the moment. In a crisis, you’re not going to have time to go to the store to get what you need. Additionally, having unexpired and in-stock supplies at your facility is critical to employee safety. Employers who have unique or changing first-aid needs in their workplace may need to enhance their first-aid kits. If it is reasonably anticipated that employees will be exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials while using first aid supplies, employers are required to provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) in compliance with the provisions of the Occupational Exposure to Blood borne Pathogens standard, § 1910.1030(d)(3) (56 FR 64175). This standard lists appropriate PPE for this type of exposure, such as gloves, gowns, face shields, masks, and eye protection.

How do I find out what is required for my specific workplace?

When evaluating your first aid cabinet needs, be sure to address the five major areas of first aid. You should also be familiar with ANSI and OSHA standards.

5 major areas 

  • Major injury or trauma: Scissors, gauze pads, tourniquet, mouth barrier
  • Minor injury (such as a cut or scrape): Adhesive bandages, antiseptic spray, cold compress
  • Eyecare: Eyewash stations, refill solution (Click here for OSHA eyewash requirements: Eyewash Station Video
  • Employee Comfort: Cold relief, allergy relief, headache relief, antacids
  • Burn Care: Burn dressing, burn spray, burn cream

What does OSHA recommend?

All industries are required to comply with OSHA 29 CFR 1910.151 regardless of the type of work performed by employees; however, the hazards and related first aid required would be different for offices (low-risk environment) than, for example, steel mills (high-risk environment).

In very simple terms, ANSI sets the standard while OSHA enforces the standard for workplace first aid compliance. ANSI (The American National Standard Institute) provides a list of non-mandatory minimum requirements for workplace first aid kits:

  • Gauze pads (at least 4 x 4 inches)
  • Two large gauze pads (at least 8 x 10 inches)
  • Box adhesive bandages 
  • One package gauze roller bandage at least 2 inches wide
  • Two triangular bandages
  • Wound cleaning agent such as sealed moistened towelettes
  • Scissors
  • At least one blanket
  • Tweezers
  • Adhesive tape
  • Latex gloves
  • Resuscitation equipment such as resuscitation bag, airway, or pocket mask
  • Two elastic wraps
  • Splint
  • Directions for requesting emergency assistance

 (Click here for specific requirements for Class A and Class B workplaces:


Do you have any other first aid recommendations for my workplace?

Address first aid training needs. First-aid courses should be individualized to the needs of the workplace. First-aid training should be repeated periodically to maintain and update knowledge and skills. Outdated training and reference materials should be replaced or removed.

  • Designate a first aid leader. Give a specific person the responsibility for choosing the types and amounts of first-aid supplies and for maintaining these supplies.
  • Consider an automated external defibrillator (AED) when selecting first-aid supplies and equipment.
  • Supplies must be stored in an area where they are readily available for emergency access

The term “readily available” is not defined in the OSHA standard. However, the first aid supplies should be installed in an easily accessible area, and the first aid provider generally should not have to travel through several doorways, hallways and/or stairways to access first aid supplies.A good rule of thumb is to add a first aid cabinet if you have a change in elevation, or change in department (depending on department size).

It is important to always be prepared for the unexpected. With a Legacy Medical First Aid Kit, you can rest assured that your employees and yourself will be able to react appropriately in an emergency situation. Still not sure what supplies or how many to provide at your worksite? One way to develop a comprehensive first aid kit is to contact Legacy Medical Sales to help you customize a kit, a perfect fit for your specific needs. In addition to creating a tailor-made kit, Legacy Medical Sales can also keep you OSHA compliant by refilling your kit on a recurring basis. Likewise, shop our site to personalize your own first aid kit at: