There are some emergencies that can’t wait five minutes for EMTs to arrive. Severe bleeding is one of these. A person can bleed to death in three to five minutes depending on the severity. Employees need to be available to deal effectively with this and other serious emergencies.
OSHA specifies in 29 CFR 1910 that first aid kits need to be specified by the consulting physician. Employees should be trained in the appropriate use of the materials provided. First aid and CPR courses can be offered. You can’t expect people to respond properly to emergencies unless they have an opportunity to practice.
Proper first aid in the case of a spill of chemicals on a person is to use the safety shower in less than ten seconds and to remove all contaminated clothing immediately. This is no time for modesty (although shower curtains or fire blanket screens are appreciated).
You never get good at anything unless you practice. Make up a card that says: “You have just splashed concentrated nitric or sulfuric on yourself.” Drop the card on one of your employees or students two or three times a year to start the safety shower/fire blanket drill. If you generate one or two less data points that day, it’s ok. You’ve just said to everyone (by your actions) that working safely in the lab is more important than making widgets!
Speaking of first aid, what’s the first thing you do if your clothing is on fire? That’s right … stop … drop … and roll.
What’s the second thing? Ah ha! Not as easy. The correct answer is lots of cold water in the shower to take the heat away to stop the “cooking” process.
Source: Kaufman, James A., Laboratory Safety Guidelines - Expanded Edition, The Laboratory Safety Institute, www.labsafetyinstitute.org
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