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The importance of bandages and emergency pressure dressings

Shallow cuts, scrapes, and abrasions may be minor in the realm of workplace injuries, but they should be tended to immediately. A well-stocked first aid kit is important to have on hand so that workers can treat their wounds in a timely manner. They also help ensure that minor injuries do not become infected. Employers should be sure to make first aid kits available at any workplace.

Most minor injuries only require an adhesive bandage, such as a Band-Aid®, or a small amount of gauze and tape. Bandages come in many varieties, and the appropriate should be used depending on the nature of the wound and the environment where a staff member works. There are waterproof adhesive bandages, ones made from flexible woven fabric, sheer strips, and heavyweight bandages for maximum strength that will not tear.

Larger wounds that can't be treated with a bandage and need more absorbency require an emergency pressure dressing. This type of first aid product is made from high-absorbency fabric or gauze. It should be applied with a great deal of pressure and wrapped tightly with a bandage roll.

In addition to emergency pressure dressings, some cuts and lacerations can be treated with alternative supplies. Steri-Strips™ and butterfly bandages are very small pieces of medical tape that can be used to bring the edges of a wound together to keep it closed and help reduce bleeding.

Severe wounds require medical attention. A doctor or medial professional should be called if:

• The edges of the wound are jagged
• The wound is on the face
• The edges of the wound gape open
• There is dirt in the wound that won't wash or rinse out
• The wound is draining pus
• The wound is tender and inflamed
• The area around the wound has gone numb
• Red streaks are forming near the wound
• Bleeding is profuse and won't stop in 20 minutes

For wounds that can be treated on-site, keeping first aid supplies in one central location, or multiple locations in larger facilities, is the basis for an effective and useful first aid program. Workers should be trained to know where these items are kept so that if an injury occurs, they will be able to quickly find and properly use bandages, Band-Aids®, emergency pressure dressings, Steri-Strips™, butterfly bandages, and other items. This knowledge, as well as the proper protocol for severe wounds, is essential to maintaining a sound and safe workplace.