Nurses provide patient care while protecting their own health and well-being. This requires proper training, regardless of the medical assistance they provide. Even administering first aid requires proper know-how. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not have specific standards addressing first aid training for health care professionals. However, per the OSHA general duty clause, all employers must provide workers with a workplace free of recognized hazards. That includes requiring employees to be trained to administer first aid.
Nurses face exposure to biological hazards during first aid response. In accordance with OSHA’s blood-borne pathogens standard, employers must prepare a written plan to control exposures and train employees on what to do.Universal safety precautions are a standard risk-control procedure for first aid.
Exposure control plans are helpful when employees observe and follow them. Because of the potential exposure to blood-borne pathogens when administering first aid, nurses must be trained to take precautions. This includes treating bodily fluids as if they are infected with disease-causing pathogens and wearing the proper personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks and shields. It also includes practicing good personal hygiene, disinfection and sanitation procedures during cleanup.
The American Red Cross, National Safety Council and other private organizations have training programs designed for health care professionals and emergency personnel. OSHA guidance defers to these organizations for first aid training programs. The training includes proper techniques for administering CPR, as well as advanced training for nurses on using defibrillators on patients with cardiac arrest.
Nurses working in occupational clinics need to secure readily accessible supplies. OSHA guidance documents reference the American National Standards Institute standard ANSI Z308.1 – 2003 for minimum first aid kit inventory. The type of equipment and supplies to stock depends on the needs of the work environment. For example, automated external defibrillators may be necessary in some occupational settings and not others.
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