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First aid is emergency care given immediately to an injured person. The purpose of first aid is to minimize injury and future disability. In serious cases, first aid may be necessary to keep the victim alive.
All Canadian 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:
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:
Legislation may also specify that first aid supplies are to be, for example:
Since legislation varies by jurisdiction, contact your local jurisdiction for exact details. A list is available in the OSH Answers on Canadian Governmental Occupational Health & Safety Departments.
A list of which acts and regulations that cover first aid is available on our website. Please note that while you can see the list of legislation for free, you will need a subscription to view the actual documentation.
If an employer opts to offer additional first aid measures (including over-the-counter medications, administration of oxygen, use of epinephrine auto-injectors, naloxone, etc.), it is suggested that they first seek legal counsel so that they are aware of any liability issues, and to check with your local jurisdiction responsible for health and safety. For example, in some jurisdictions, distribution of over-the-counter medications is not recommended (although an individual who can purchase using a vending machine may be permissible). In other jurisdictions, distribution of over-the-counter medications may be permitted under specific circumstances (including the appropriate training of first aid personnel).
Employers are usually required to maintain written records of all injuries and treatment given in a first aid treatment record book or log. Each event should be recorded and include:
Where this book is kept and who has access to it may vary with the need for privacy.
Only employees trained in first aid should assist a victim. Never give first aid treatment for which you are not trained.
As part of their emergency preparedness training, employees should know how to respond during an injury or illness situation. In terms of first aid, employees should know:
While a first aid hazard assessment is not required in all jurisdictions, conducting one will ensure the workplace is prepared for all likely emergencies and the types of first aid treatment that may be needed. It is essential to know the exact hazards in the workplace as being prepared will also help reduce the severity of any events.
For example, if you work in an autobody repair shop, provisions should be made to have training and first aid supplies for:
Depending on the workplace, there may also be need to consider:
Below is a sample worksheet. Customize it for your workplace needs. Alternatively, the information collected in other job safety analysis or hazard assessments may be used.
|Name and Location of Workplace:|
Hazard Assessment: Jobs done at this worksite, work processes, equipment, tools, chemicals, materials, etc.
Types of injuries that may occur (include common and rare events)
Number of Workers Per Shift
Required First Aid (e.g., attendants, first aid kits, supplies as stated in legislation)
Barriers to First Aid (e.g., travel distance to nearest hospital or treatment centre)
Summary of Findings (e.g., Is there need for specialized training, transportation, etc. which may be above legislated minimum requirements?)
Name and Signature:
Adapted from: WorkSafe BC First Aid Assessment Worksheet.
Some common issues for first aid include infection control and chemical exposures.
Infection control from blood borne pathogens is a serious issue while giving first aid. Be sure to have appropriate training. The OSH Answers on Routine Practices has more details.
If your workplace has chemicals, certain treatment steps may be required. The OSH Answers on First Aid for Chemical Exposure has more details.
CCOHS has prepared the publication The Safety Data Sheet - A Guide to First Aid Recommendations as a source of information for people interested in developing or evaluating first aid recommendations for Safety Data Sheets (SDS). It is also useful for developing first aid programs for responding to chemical exposures in workplaces.