Safety Q&A: Is There a Need for Tourniquets in the Workplace?

Safety Q&A: Is There a Need for Tourniquets in the Workplace?

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Construction, manufacturing and office work have varying hazards. Tourniquets may not be something you’ve thought of as an important part of your safety equipment. Yet should there be arterial bleeding from an injury, unconsciousness can occur within 30 seconds and death within two minutes. Such injuries are thankfully rare, but it does happen, as a client of ours recently experienced.

Last year, a client had an employee’s arm severed above the elbow. Employees improvised a tourniquet using a belt. It helped, but more was needed. When an officer arrived on the scene, they applied a manufactured tourniquet. The surgeons credited it for saving the employee’s life.

Factories and construction sites have large machinery with pinch points and areas employees could become caught in. Hand tools such as saws, grinders, and chain saws can quickly cause significant injuries. Think about your facility and work environment – What elements pose such danger to your team?

It is not only machine and equipment posing a threat. All businesses must also contend with the unfortunate threat of an active shooter entering their premises or sites and causing harm.

Still need convincing a tourniquet is important? Think of it as a safety net similar to the AED you have on-site. You hope you never have to use it, but you have one on hand should an emergency happen. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 235,740 injuries in 2018 caused by contact with objects and equipment that were so severe, it resulted in time away from work. Your AED is expensive, yet a quality tourniquet is only $20.

Once you have a tourniquet on-site, it’s time for employee training. Your team should know when and how to use a tourniquet to help an injured colleague until the emergency medical team arrives.

WHEN

  • There is a severe life-threatening injury to the arms and legs, with bleeding that cannot be stopped by applying direct pressure.
  • The situation or environment does not allow someone to apply direct pressure, such as trapped limbs caught in a machine or under a load.

HOW

  • Check the scene (make sure you will not become the next casualty).
  • If possible, send someone to call 911.

Most manufactured tourniquets typically follow these steps for use:

  1. Place tourniquet around injured limb approximately 2-3 inches above wound. (Avoid placing over joints.)
  2. Cinch the strap and remove as much slack from the tourniquet.
  3. Turn windlass (a bar you turn to tighten the tourniquet) until bleeding stops coming from the wound.
  4. Secure the windlass using provided clip/holder.
  5. Note the time the tourniquet was applied. This will help medical professionals determine possible cellular death.

Training your employees should be part of your first aid program. Trauma care provides additional skills so your team is prepared if there is a severe life-threatening injury.

Equipping your employees with the proper tools is important for all the tasks we ask them to do. It should be no different for safety equipment. Jobsites, offices and factories can all benefit from providing tourniquets. One of the Miller Group clients has even purchased tourniquets for the field teams to be placed in their vehicles.

Tourniquets are available through a variety of vendors. Make sure to purchase from reputable companies that use quality materials and tests them for effectiveness. While there are cheaper options that save a few dollars, they have been found to break while in use.

Taking the initiative will be imperative if/when an employee has an arterial bleed.

 

Aaron Paris - Safety JSABy Aaron Paris ASP, Director of Safety, The Miller Group

See Also:
Safety and the Cost of Doing Nothing
Safety Q&A: 8 Shockingly Simple Steps for Electrical Cord Safety
Safety Q&A: OSHA Changes with the New Administration

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