Maintenance and Operations, Safety

Facility First Aid Kits: Should You Stock OTC Meds?

Facilities management professionals are often tasked with the proper supply of on-site first aid kits. When it comes to keeping medications stocked, there may be some question as to whether you should include over-the-counter (OTC) medications, and if so, which ones.

First Aid cabinet

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Those facilities managers who are looking for a specific standard, perhaps from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), are out of luck. Generally speaking, OSHA allows employers to provide first aid supplies specific to the needs of their workplace. OSHA refers to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z308.1 standard for first aid kits as guidance only; it is not a mandatory requirement. Therefore, you should assess whether including OTC medications in your first-aid kit makes sense for your facility and proceed accordingly.

The ANSI Z308.1-2015 standard lists low-dose aspirin, analgesics and anti-inflammatory medications, hydrocortisone, and antihistamines as supplemental items to consider including in a workplace first-aid kit. Depending on your environment, you may consider including some of these items, or others that you deem appropriate.

If you do opt to include OTC medications in your first-aid kits, they should be packaged in single-dose, tamper-evident packaging and labeled as required under FDA regulations. To prevent liability issues associated with any harmful side effects, improper dosages, or drug interactions resulting from use of OTC medications, employees should be allowed to make their own selection of properly labeled medications from the first-aid kit to avoid allegations that an employer diagnosed, treated, or recommended any medical treatment.