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One of the biggest questions that my employees have is why don't we keep Tylenol, Ibuprofen, diarrhea, migraines, cramps, etc... on site for them. My management staff has asked as well. My comment is always that I'm not a nurse and won't dispense medicine on site. They continue with we've had it before here (before I showed up). But I stay strong that I won't keep it in the shelves nor my desk drawers. I don't know nor do they who has what allergic reaction to what medicine. Therefore, I've proposed a medicine dispenser where they can pay a quarter to obtain whatever medicine they think they need at the moment. This should take liability away from the company and myself. What are your thoughts on this idea? Or do you know otherwise of liability issues?

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Jason, we (Professional Pipeline Contractors Inc.) have a complete first aid kit that is stock with many over the counter meds (Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Pepto, ect...) we require all employees to fill in our first aid log for any items that are used. We then track adhesive bandages, eyewash or antacid meds what ever is used from the cabinet. What we do during our new comer’s orientation, we let them know our policy of medicine and that they need to know what they are allergic too. Also if someone brings Tylenol in their lunch box and has an allergic reaction at your work place it is an OSHA recordable until you can proof different. I once worked for a large Corporation where they removed all of the first aid kits because they did not want employees using supplies and not recording a first aid injury. MSHA and CAL-OSHA require you have an approved first aid kit readily available that is supplied according to a Doctors recommendation. I would recommend talking with your worker Comp. Insurance group and see what they recommend.
Thanks Ray for your reply. My insurance company says that it's up to us what we want to do. They don't see any liability whether we offer it or not. KYOSHA is a pain in the butt. They'd find reason to cite us for either way.
MSHA has a required list of 1st aid supplies, but it is out out dated. Most all mines are now required to have EMT's on every shift that men work. A typical EMT response bag does not meet MSHA requirements. As far as over the counter meds, we have taken them out of the workplace due to an allergic reaction that an employee had. Our work comp carrier reccommended that no meds be supplied by the company.
We keep first aid kits throughout the warehouse but remove any medicines that can be swallowed. We still have triple antibiotics ointments etc.. I was told when I started that it was for liability reasons. Although we do allow associates to bring their own - we just need to know about it and sign the bottle (for theft pruposes) and it must always be in the original bottle, prescrption meds must be in the original presvription bottle. I also track the first aid supplies, only to find our where people are getting injured- usually paper cuts, occasionally a knife nick, or sharp edge on a shelf. then I can have maintenance fix it right away.
I removed medications from open dispensing at our work place as well. Which of course made me extremely unpopular, as "they had always given it out in the past". I had concerns with regarding reactions to medication and liability. I did add the meds to a vending machine in which the employees must make a personal decision in purchasing. This doesn't remove all liability, however it could possibly reduce it. We do provide other medical supplies such as band aids and the like (of course logging it in the first aid book).
To avoid some painful litigation it should not but in reality how convinient it would be to have tylenol at work some times. what we used to do before we did away with it is that I offered what would help and set it on the table I could not put it in anybodys hand or order them to take it. "I think this might help you... if you wish... "
Analgesics come under the category of medication and are not considered a first aid item. The opinion is that workplace first aid kits should not include medications of any type, including pain killers. 'First aid' is defined as the provision of emergency treatment and life support for people suffering injury or illness. The dispensing of medication would generally not fall within this definition. A major concern with dispensing medication is that a recipient may suffer an allergic reaction. This is possible, even with common medications such as tylenol or aspirin. Many people are intolerant to such substances.

First Aiders are people who undertake the initial treatment of people suffering injury or illness at work. First aiders should not be responsible for on-going medical care. These people are trained to administer first aid only, not to make decisions on what medication should be given, and headache tablets, tylenol etc. come under the category of medication.

I agree with RAUL - people should bring some if they think they will need it. There's always someone in the office who has them. I keep them myself and have the employee sign off when I give them a typical dose. The other issue is over the counter prescription abuse, if you have an employee who abuses the medication you'd be enabling that by making it available.

Wendy (the other Canadian)
We currently have OTC meds available on the plant floor for our TM's to use at will. I am confused by the thinking of my fellow Safety Professionals when they say that they will not dispense medication that is available OTC. If a TM were to come to one of us and ask for a pain reliever, we give them a suggestion as to what type of they should take, they take it on our recommendation, and have a reaction, then I wholly understand. But for the TM to take OTC meds that are in the First Aid cabinet without recommendation, it would really be no different than if they went to the local store/pharmacy, bought the meds and had a reaction. The store would not be liable for the reaction, simply because they were the purveyor.

As to the abuse issue, the same standard would apply. Now, I admit that some stores now control some OTC meds for purchase, but that seems to be more of an issue of using a type of medication to make a more potent, illegal drug (methamphatamines).




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