First Aid

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First Aid

What is First Aid?

First aid is exactly that – the first medical help a person gets if they are injured or ill.   

First aid can be an emergency measure to help to preserve a person’s life if they are seriously injured until an ambulance arrives or they can get to a doctor.  First aid also – and more commonly - addresses less critical situations in which people do not need further medical treatment.

This module will help you develop your own first aid program.

What are the Rules About First Aid in the Workplace?

By law, every workplace must have a first aid program. That means having written instructions for providing first aid, a system for keeping first aid records, a system for making sure your workplace is properly equipped to provide quick first aid if and when it is needed, and a way to transport injured or ill workers to get further medical care.

Since each workplace is unique, employers have to assess the first aid needs of each particular location at least once a year.  The good news is that this is not as onerous a job as it may sound.  For example, WorkSafeBC has published an online tool to help with the assessment process.  Access the WorkSafeBC First Aid Assessment Tool here

As an example of the legal requirements for first aid in BC, click here for a summary of requirements for the first aid attendant qualifications and facilities needed by retail stores.  For a detailed description of what supplies should be on hand, check here.

Who Can Give First Aid?

Generally, a first aid attendant is a person who has had special training and holds a provincially-recognized first aid certificate.  There are several levels of first aid certification and your circumstances dictate what level of training the first aid attendant needs to have.  

Again, each province has its own rules, but whoever you designate as a first aid attendant will have to meet some criteria regarding their qualifications and age.  For example, in BC and Alberta, anyone who is designated as a first aid attendant has to: 

  • Be at least 16 years old 
  • Have taken a specific government-approved first aid training course and/or exam 
  • Hold the appropriate level of certificate 

Some provinces require that the attendant’s training be received from a government-approved provider. Others, like Saskatchewan, do not.

Posting and Communicating First Aid Information 

Even if you don’t have to have a first aid attendant or special facilities, everyone on staff needs to know where the first aid kit is and how to get help if they need it. 

Providing information and training to all staff as part of their basic orientation is a good way to make sure that everyone knows how and when to get first aid.  The orientation should at least cover: 

  • What first aid equipment, supplies and facilities you have and where to find them 
  • How many first aid attendants you have, along with their names, contact information, and details about their qualifications 
  • How to call for help in an emergency (9-1-1) 
  • How to call for first aid 

Post this information in a conspicuous place so that all staff can easily find it.   

First Aid Records

Employers are required to keep records of all instances in which staff or customers seek first aid. 

Use a first aid log book to record injuries, illnesses, symptoms and treatments.  A log book entry should be completed every time someone needs first aid or reports an illness or injury. Whether it’s a cut requiring nothing more than a band-aid, a sprained ankle, sore wrist or an issue that affects a number of people (such as fumes or exhaust making people feel nauseated) include it.  

It is much better to record too much information than not enough. Make sure the log book has space to record at least the following information: 

  • The worker’s name 
  • The date and time of the injury or illness 
  • The date and time the worker pursued first aid or reported the injury or illness 
  • A description of the illness or injury as well as details about what caused it and where it happened 
  • The first aid treatment given 
  • The name and qualifications of the person who gave first aid

Click here for a sample first aid log form

Keep all first aid records for at least 3 years. Treat them confidentially but make them available for review by the affected workers. They also need to be available for review by regulatory officers.

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