Why inspect your first aid cabinet?
The purpose of inspecting your first aid kit is to organize, prepare for replenishment, and ensure everything is safe and ready to use. These steps refer to a standard 4-shelf industrial first aid cabinet, but the principles can be applied to any first aid kit, regardless of size or type.
1. Check for unsafe or damaged products
Check for damaged, soiled, dirty, or even partially used products. On a job site, all items should be single-use to prevent cross-contamination. That means a tube of ointment with a resealable cap should be considered contaminated after one use. Open bottles of eyewash or partially used ointment should be discarded. It’s best to stock your first aid cabinet with single-use packages of these products.
2. Check for expiration dates
Many of the items in a first aid kit have an expiration date, which is marked on the container or individual package. Items including sprays, ointments, wipes, medications, eyewash, and eye drops will all have an expiration. If the outer box does not show a date, be sure to check the product inside. Keep in mind that similar items may have different dates. When inspecting or replenishing your first aid kit, remember FIFO (first in, first out). Always put newer products behind the older ones so they will be used in order of expiration date. Be especially careful when inspecting the pouches inside the cabinet door.
3. Review and observe the usage and available inventory
As you check your supplies, pay attention to how much has been used. This will help you plan for the future and avoid running out of any particular item. Good observation may also help pinpoint the types of injuries that are occurring, which can identify areas for improvement to create a safer workplace.
4. Arrange and organize the product to its appropriate location in the cabinet
Consistency is key to managing and maintaining your supplies. It’s important to keep your cabinet organized so that when first aid is needed, your crew can easily find what they need in the same spot each time. Know where your supplies are supposed to be and move them back to their dedicated spot – including items in the door.
5. Remember these best practices
- Inspect your first aid kit quarterly (if not monthly)
- Sanitize the cabinet as you perform inspections
- Post emergency care information on the outside of the box or cabinet, including:
- Site address
- Urgent care address/directions
- Phone numbers for Garco project manager, superintendent, safety, and quality control contacts
- Phone numbers for OSHA, WISHA/DOSH, EPA, and local fire/rescue
- List of first aid-qualified people
- According to ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2021 – Workplace First Kits (not OSHA/WISHA):
- Type A must include a foil blanket
- Type B must include a military-style tourniquet and hand sanitizer