Although most employers take steps to provide safe and healthful work environments for their employees, the reality is that accidents can and do happen. Whether it’s due to equipment failures, employee error or miscommunication, accidents can happen quickly and without notice. So preparing employees in advance on how to handle injured workers is a wise investment. Often times this comes in the form of a first aid program.
What is first aid? First aid is simple treatments for minor injuries, or initial care provided before emergency medical treatment is available. It can be as minor as applying a bandage to an injured hand or using an automated external defibrillator (AED) to help someone in cardiac arrest.
Either way, the availability of first aid can play an important role in determining the outcome of a workplace illness or injury, especially if it’s severe. Including a workplace first aid program into your comprehensive safety and health management system will prepare your employees to appropriately respond to workplace injuries.
The basic elements of a first aid program include:
1. Identifying and assessing risks that have potential to cause injury or illness. This includes:
- Obtaining and evaluating information about injuries, illnesses and fatalities at the workplace;
- Evaluating the controls and work practices in place; and
- Consulting local fire and rescue services or emergency medical professionals to identify response times.
2. Designing the program
- Put the policies and procedures in writing and communicate it to all employees.
- Provide first aid supplies in an area that is easily acceptable. An example of first aid kit contents is provided in the American National Standard Institute ANSI Z308.1 – 2003, Minimum Requirements for Workplace First Aid Kits. However, the kits described are suitable for small businesses. For large operations, employers should determine how many first aid kits are needed, and if the kits should be augmented with additional equipment and supplies. In all cases, an AED should be considered when selecting equipment. Also, it is important to periodically reassess the demand for first aid supplies and adjust the inventories as needed.
- Assign and train first aid providers since not all employees will be expected to respond in first aid situations. First aid courses should be designed to meet the needs of the workplace. Be sure to include instructions on how to respond to medical emergencies, such as: chest pain, breathing problems, anaphylactic reaction, seizures, abdominal injury and impaled object.
- Provide for evaluation and revision of the first aid program to keep it current and applicable to emerging risks in the workplace. Include regular assessments of the first aid training course to make sure it’s adequate.
Remember, when an injury happens, a prompt first aid response may mean the difference between a fast or delayed recovery, temporary or permanent disability and even life or death. That’s why it’s important to designate first aid providers and inform them of their roles.By J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc., the nation's leader in risk and regulatory management solutions since 1953. For more information, visit www.jjkeller.com