As we go into work regardless of where that it and have that morning coffee or smoke, we don’t think twice about the first aid kit in the building or vehicles, we assume that they will be there, along with trained COMPETENT people on site who can help and yes when we call for 911 or 999 for a medical help we don’t think the ambulance is not coming! When an injury occurs, prompt and effective first aid can make the difference between life and death, or permanent and temporary disability. That’s why you need to be ready at all times. Do you have a process for getting workers to a medical facility and back to work or home? Who would accompany injured workers? Has your first aid program kept up with workplace changes that may affect accessibility?
The harsh reality is not all places are staff or have access to 911 or services even in today world, we assume that SOMEONE any one has checked and inspected the FIRST AID kit(s) on site and now one in their right mind would use up the stock and not say something! Or all the staff for some reason who are first aid trained are out on other jobsites. Or that the ambulance that you need so badly is not available due to high volume calls or is stuck in traffic miles away or is out of service and one is coming from over a 100 km away, but IT DOES HAPPEN! Is first aid part of your orientation training? Do employees know what steps to take if an incident occurs? Do employees know who their first aiders are? Where first aid stations or rooms are located? Some workplaces post pictures of first aiders and introduce them to everybody.
So let me ask you do you have an ADDRESS and MAP location of the NEAREST medical facility that you can get proper care at! Is it easily accessed and understood by all! And what happens if you are working not in your NORMAL worksite, where is that hospital located in what town or area and how do you get to it!
You, as an employer, are best placed to understand the exact nature of your workplace and decide what you need to provide. Additional quantities of any item contained in first aid kits may be increased to suit the needs of a particular workplace. Personal protective equipment (for example, CPR mask and non-latex gloves) as prescribed by the first aid training should also be included in the first aid box. In a location where a physician or registered nurse is available, the employer may authorize them to expand the contents of the first aid boxes. Equipment outside of the scope of first aiders, equipment that may deteriorate or that is potentially dangerous (for example, medications and ointments) should not be included in the first aid box.
All North American jurisdictions have a requirement for the workplace to provide at least some level of first aid. The type of first aid equipment and training required depends on:
- the number of employees,
- the types of hazards present at the workplace, and
- the travel distance to a hospital/availability of professional medical assistance.
In addition, each jurisdiction will have specific requirements for reporting injuries (types, length of time to report to compensation board, details that need to be reported, etc.).
First aid regulations will specify, in detail, your jurisdiction’s requirements. These details will include:
- the need for a first aid attendant
- the level of training or certification required for the first aid attendant
- number of first aid attendants required (during operational hours or per shift)
- the type and amount of first aid supplies and facilities (content of first aid kits and room equipment)
- location of kits and notices (in some cases)
- emergency transportation
- accident/incident reporting requirements
OH&S and OSHA Legislation also specify that first aid supplies are to be, for example:
- stocked with required and appropriate items
- kept clean and dry
- checked regularly for expiry dates
- maintained so they meet the regulations
- requirements, at minimum (e.g., restocked when supplies are used)
- stored in a visible and accessible location
First aid provision must be ‘adequate and appropriate in the circumstances’. This means that you must provide sufficient first aid equipment (first aid kit), facilities and personnel at all times.
In order to decide what provision you need to make you should undertake a first-aid needs assessment. This assessment should consider the circumstances of your workplace, workforce and the hazards and risks that may be present. The findings will help you decide what first-aid arrangements you need to put in place.
In assessing your first-aid needs, you should consider:
· the nature of the work you do
· workplace hazards and risks (including specific hazards requiring special arrangements)
· the nature and size of your workforce
· the work patterns of your staff
· holiday and other absences of those who will be first-aiders and appointed persons
· your organization’s history of accidents
You may also need to consider:
· the needs of travelling, remote and lone workers
· the distribution of your workforce
· the remoteness of any of your sites from emergency medical services
· whether your employees work on shared or multi-occupancy sites
· first-aid provision for non-employees (eg members of the public).
The minimum requirement in terms of personnel is to appoint a person to take charge of first-aid arrangements. The roles of this appointed person include looking after the first-aid equipment and facilities and calling the emergency services when required. The appointed person can also provide emergency cover, within their role and competence, where a first-aider is absent due to unforeseen circumstances.