Injuries and acute health problems can occur at work. Therefore, it is essential for every workplace to have a well planned first aid response in case unforeseen incidents do happen.
Occupational first aid means being ready to provide initial treatment and life support for people who suffer an acute health problem or injury at work. First aid can significantly minimize the severity of illness or injury and improves the outcome of the victim. It can also help calm the victim. In people suffering from serious injuries, immediate and appropriate first aid could be life-saving.
Under Canadian laws, employers are obligated to ensure the health and safety of all their workers. This includes ensuring appropriate first aid services and facilities in places where people work. To have an effective first aid response, employee awareness is crucial. All employees should be well informed about how to respond in case of emergencies. This includes the location of first aid supplies and the persons designated as first aiders.
Assessing first aid needs at the workplace
First aid needs of workplaces may vary depending on a number of factors. In order for the company to have an effective and appropriate first aid response, the employer, together with the employees, must assess the workplace and identify potential first aid scenarios that are most likely to occur in their specific setting.
Some important factors to consider when assessing first aid needs include:
- the nature and severity of health risks or hazards
- the structure, size and location of the workplace
- the number of employees working
- access to health facility or medical services
- any past injuries or illnesses
Basic first aid facilities
Once first aid needs have been identified, you will need to have an appropriate first aid plan. This plan depends on the information you collect. Some of the basic first aid facilities every workplace should have include first aid kits, first aid rooms, and first aid policies and procedures.
- First aid kits should be kept in an accessible location and should be clearly identifiable. They need to be always well stocked and regularly checked. As much as possible, all major buildings or installations should have a separate first aid kit.
- First aid rooms should be accessible, well ventilated and with temperature control. It should be used entirely for first aid or emergency purposes. These rooms should also have a wash basin or sink and a supply of clean water.
- First aid policies and procedures are the bible when it comes to responding to emergencies occurring at home. It should be developed in consultation with the employees and should be communicated to them. All employers must be informed of these policies and procedures.
Trained first aiders
Every workplace must have designated first aiders (click here to find a course near you). Moreover, there should be at least two first aiders that work at any given time, especially for work arrangements that involve shifting. The number of first aiders should also be proportionate with the number of workers. The training needs may vary depending on the assessed first aid needs of the workplace. Ideally, workers designated as first aiders should have completed advanced first aid course. First aiders must also undergo regular re-training or updates to further enhance their skills.