Workplace First Aid
Workplace first aid should be a top priority of all employers to ensure that each location of their business is prepared to provide first aid care in case of injury or sudden illness. First aid care along with needed first aid supplies should be sufficient enough to care for the patient until emergency medical treatment is available or until the paramedics arrive. Training personnel for each shift to ensure that there is a person fully trained in first aid care is on duty at all times of business operation is optimal. This first aid personnel should be trained to delivery initial medical emergency procedures using first aid supplies and equipment needed to perform a primary assessment as well as providing care while waiting on paramedics or emergency medical personnel to arrive on the scene.
Some important elements to a first aid program for the workplace:
Identifying and assessing the workplace risks that have potential in causing injury or illness to employees
Design and implement a workplace first aid program that:
Always aims to minimize the outcome of accidents or exposures
Complies with OSHA requirements for first aid needs
Ensure that the correct quantities of first aid supplies are ready and available for the type of environment and hazards for each jobsite.
Trains specific employees in proper first aid techniques specific to the workplace they are in as well as receiving refresher courses in first aid skills and proper knowledge.
All employees should be instructed in your company’s first aid program, this knowledge should include what employees should be if a co-worker becomes injured or ill. It is recommended that specific policies and programs are put into place.
Regular assessment of your company’s first aid program should be in place to ensure the program’s techniques are up to date and that they match the company’s hazards should they change.
Assessing the risks while working to design a proper first aid program for your workplace is important to ensure that you are taking into account any and all hazards that may occur within your facility.
A few of the occupational hazards to look out for are:
Putting your work place first aid program policies in writing so that all employees have access to know what they can expect if they are injured or get ill on the job. This information should be accessible by all employees including those that may not read or speak English. Your first aid team should also be made aware of employees who do not speak English to discuss the language barrier prior to the need to preform first aid care.
OSHA First Aid standard (29 CFR 1910.151) requires trained first-aid providers at all workplaces of any size if there is no “infirmary, clinic, or hospital in near proximity to the workplace which is used for the treatment of all injured employees.” In addition to first-aid requirements of 29 CFR 1910.151, several OSHA standards also require training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) because sudden cardiac arrest from asphyxiation, electrocution, or exertion may occur. CPR may keep the victim alive until EMS arrives to provide the next level of medical care.
First Aid Supplies
We advise that employers assign 1 or more person the responsibility for choosing the types and amounts needed of first aid supplies as well as maintaining the correct quantities of these first aid supplies by monitoring them frequently throughout the month. The first aid supplies chosen should be adequate and be the correct type to treat the type of injuries that may occur within the facility or job site. First Aid Supplies should be kept in an area that is accessible for emergency access at any time. An automated external defibrillator (AED) should be considered when choosing first aid supplies and equipment.
The minimum requirements for your first aid kits are determined by the number of employees within each facility or jobsite as well as the job hazards present at the facility or jobsite. For larger facilities several first aid kits will be needed. Consulting with your local fire department and emergency medical professionals may be helpful in determining the needs of your specific workplace hazards and necessary first aid supplies/ equipment. Employers should reassess often for the demand of these first aid supplies and adjust their inventories if additional employees are hired or if additional workplace hazards are added to a particular facility or jobsite.
Automated External Defibrillators (AED)
Automated external defibrillators (AED) are widely available and provide safe, effective and easy to use assistance to provide critical and necessary treatment for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) caused by ventricular fibrillation, the uncoordinated beating of the heart leading the collapse and death. The use of AED’s as soon as possible after sudden cardiac arrest (within 3-4 minutes) can lead to a 60% survival rate. CPR is of value as well because it supports the circulation and ventilation of the victim until an electric shock is delivered by an AED which can restore the fibrillating heart to normal. Every workplace should assess its own requirements for an AED program as part of its first aid program.
First Aid Training
First Aid Training is a crucial part of a first aid program within a workplace. Training offered by the American Heart Association, American Red Cross or other national recognized as well as private educational organizations teach first aid courses and certify first aid training for employees who will most likely be the first to treat a patient and remain with them until medical professionals arrive. First aid training should be geared to the needs of your specific unique workplace and workplace hazards.
Hands-on training using CPR training mannequins and partner practice is a useful practice and will prepare the trainee in how to handle a situation when it may occur on the job. It is important to have first aid supplies and first aid equipment available to practice with while exposing trainees to injuries as well as illnesses in settings they may encounter while on the job. The emphasis on “quick response” time to first aid situations in very important during first aid training courses. Interacting with your local EMS department should be covered as well as the understanding of the legal aspects of providing first aid care to others including the Good Samaritan legislation which protect volunteers who aid in an emergency event and respond to help victims.
During a first aid training course it is also recommended that your first aid team learn about universal precautions and bodily fluids and to provide protection from bloodborne pathogens and other potentially infectious materials they may come in contact with. Learning about personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, eye protection, masks and respirator barrier devices along with the proper way to dispose of blood contaminated sharps and surfaces using kits such as Universal Precaution Kits (UPK) and Bloodborne Pathogen Kits.
The course should also train the students how to:
Assess the scene and victims
Assess the scene for safety, the number of people injured and also the type of event
Assess for the need of respiratory protection in the event of toxic fumes
Assess each victim for responsiveness, airway blockage, breathing, circulation and how to use medical alert tags if needed
Learn how to prioritize the care when there are several victims
Learn how to re position the ill or injured victims to prevent further injury
Learn the importance of calling 911 and or Emergency Medical Services Early
Your workplace first aid program should be reviewed periodically in order to determine if the needs of your specific workplace has changed. Training, first aid supplies and equipment should be added and or modified to meet the changing needs in your workplace if hazards/ risks have changed or increased, additional employees hired, or if additional worksites have been added since the last first aid program review. Your first aid training program should also be kept up to date ensuring that first aid responder employees are trained often and that they are up to date with current first aid techniques and knowledge including training for the use of automated external defibrillators (AED) and CPR skills. Outdated training materials should be replaced with the most up to date information available.