Everyday challenges of running a business are enough to keep most employers busy. Adding workplace safety requirements to the menu can be frustrating, especially if the rules are not easy to understand. Require-ments for employee training in CPR and first aid are among those that can be confusing, yet are extremely important.

The Department of Labor and Industries requires that appropriate first-aid care be available where employees are working. The American Red Cross Health and Safety Department is dedicated to meeting the first-aid training needs of Pierce County businesses so that the businesses, in turn, can meet state requirements.

In June 1998, the Department of Labor and Industries put into effect new rules regarding first aid. Changes in requirements are designed to give employers greater flexibility. Previously, specific rules had to be followed by every workplace. Under new regulations, employers will have the option of complying with regulations by preparing a written plan that addresses hazards, determines need and makes provision for availability of emergency medical treatment.

This plan may be part of the accident-prevention plan that must be prepared by all employers, alleviating the need for redundant company policy statements. The plan must assess details such as the availability of medical services and the location of first-aid supplies, and it must be tailored to the type of work, environmental conditions and location of the workplace.

The length of this plan will vary from business to business.

The first response of many is to become frustrated because they lack the personal knowledge to fulfill the requirements. But there’s no need to panic—there are ways to get assistance. The new Labor and Industry standards include appendices designed to help employers comply with the new regulations. One such tool is a worksheet for evaluation that gives guidance in writing a plan. Another lists contents of first-aid kits.

The standards also include requirements for CPR and first-aid training for employees: CPR certification is now good for two years, just like first-aid training.

Red Cross continues to maintain nationally mandated standards for validation of CPR training every year and first-aid training every three years, so its training meets all L&I requirements for course content, and its instructors will be putting special emphasis on areas covered by the new state regulations. The Department of Labor and Industries honors American Red Cross’s CPR and first-aid cards for two years after the date of issue.

Once you understand the training requirements for your organization, the next step is to determine how to fulfill those requirements. The Red Cross can help by providing training in areas such as CPR, first aid, disease prevention, disease transmission and dealing with HIV/AIDS.

Red Cross instructors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to train employees at either Red Cross facilities or your business location. Records maintained by the Red Cross staff assure that your business will always have access to employee training information should L&I question your compliance with the first-aid standards.

Compliance with such standards is important to ensure the safety of your employees. If you are unsure how these standards affect your business, call the Department of Labor and Industries for a copy of its guidelines or contact the American Red Cross at (253) 474-0600 for assistance in setting up a complete workplace training program for your business.

By Cindy Pray, marketing specialist with Tacoma Chapter, American Red Cross.