Three ways to stay on top of workplace first aid

One of the most important aspects of proper first aid is training

Three ways to stay on top of workplace first aid

Though workplace health and safety remains largely regulated on a provincial level, there have been some efforts to standardize the approach to certain aspects of OHS across Canada. The 2019 National Occupational Health and Safety Reconciliation Agreement set out common standards in first-aid kit contents and PPE.

Provinces have been updated workplace first aid requirements to reflect the changes and harmonize with the rest of the country. “When an accident or illness happens in the workplace, it’s critically important to have first aid ready until professional help can be provided,” said Jill Balser, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Labour, Skills and Immigration, in a statement in May this year.

“Having consistent approaches across jurisdictions can help save people’s lives. It can also save businesses money and time and allow for greater mobility of workers across Canada.”

Having a standardized approach to first aid makes a lot of sense – after all, a cut or a sprained ankle is the same whether you are in B.C. or Ontario and workers should expect the same response regardless of where they are. With the recent changes, what are the essentials that safety professionals need to know about first aid?

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Writing for COS, Glyn Jones says that “being informed about the best first-aid techniques and practices is essential for any company.” Indeed, employees in any job face a variety of risks including cuts, burns, muscle strains, asphyxiation and of course serious medical emergencies requiring medical aid.

“If there isn’t a proper first-aid response process in place and if employees aren’t ready to respond and provide assistance until medical aid arrives, a victim’s condition may worsen, and injuries can become far more serious,” says Jones. “This will not only lead to longer recovery times for the worker, but it will result in greater lost productivity for the organization.”

First and foremost, when it comes to workplace safety, employers should be conducting a risk assessment to establish which hazards are present in the workplace and ultimately come up with a sound safety program. When it comes to first aid, there are certain regulations that employers need to comply with, but safety professionals shouldn’t be afraid to go further to make sure that the workplace is as safe as possible when it comes to responding to emergency situations.

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One of the most important aspects of first aid is training. Who needs to do or know what will depend on the nature of the operation and the size of the organization.

In general, “first aid training should be part of the organization’s safety plan and/or part of their training plan. As far as the emergency response plan, a first aid drill should be performed from time to time, similar to a fire drill,” says Chris Schmied, Manager of Learning, St. John Ambulance, to COS.

As well as the right response, safety professionals should also be aware of where the closest emergency medical facilities, and stay on top of first aid supplies and PPE stocks to ensure that there are no shortages.

Lastly, as part of the training component, employers and safety professionals should be offering regular refresher courses to workers to make sure that they are up-to-date with their first aid training, and also keep an eye on potential new workplaces to be able to adjust emergency preparedness plans accordingly.