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Handling emergencies at the workplace

One of the worst things that can happen at the workplace is an employee getting injured. Senior leaders may partly be responsible for this so it’s up to you to do everything you can to mitigate this.

There are rules, regulations, systems and processes that can help you make your workplace safe. A safe workplace means fewer injuries and people will handle a crisis much better (if it happens at all). Again, bad luck happens, but everything else is under your control.

By doing everything you can, you can rest easy and sleep soundly, knowing that you have done your part. Read on to find out some basic things on how to make things safer.

​What is first aid?

Now, first aid, its definition at least, is quite simple. Giving first aid means alleviating or treating any injury or illness. It’s a reactive action, meaning you do it in a moment. It's supposed to help a person pull through until he or she receives proper medical care by a medical professional.

Sometimes, though, this is not needed, and simple first aid is enough. This is because first aid can sometimes stimulate recovery.

Now, there are a couple of other terms you need to know. A first aid facility is a place where people can get first aid supplies. It’s also a place where it’s easy and simple to administer first aid. A first aider is a person who can administer first aid properly, thanks to proper training and education.

Hazard levels – How to identify them

Now, it’s very important that you correctly identify the risk level to your company. This is because first aid equipment and training vary based on the business within a certain workplace.

While your manuals and training seminars can cover this in more detail, we can still roughly split businesses into high-risk and low-risk environments or workplaces.

So, high-risk areas are where you have workers and employees who face serious illness or injury at the workplace. Places like oil rigs or chemical plants, for example.

Low risk on the other hand, are places where injuries are quite minor. This is usually a shop or an office.

How high is the risk level at your workplace?

Employees under the following circumstances are considered working under high-risk conditions:

  • Using perilous machinery or equipment like mobile plant. Work that includes the use of power presses, lathes, chainsaws, etc.
  • Using hazardous substances as in chemical manufacture, working in laboratories, horticulture, petrol stations, and food manufacturing.
  • Construction work the risk of falls and accidents are relatively high.
  • Working in confined spaces, demolition, welding, abrasive blasting, electrical work, etc. where the form of work in itself is hazardous.
  • Exposure to the danger of physical violence like cash handling or working alone at night. There are also jobs that require interaction with physically aggressive customers.
  • Exposure to temperature extremes.

First aid care and responsibility

First aid is a shared responsibility. Both the employer and employees have the primary duty under the law to ensure, within due diligence and justifiable circumstances, that the personnel including guests, and customers are covered.

The law sets forth explicit obligations on a person conducting a business or undertaking in relation to first aid, including requirements to:

  • Make first aid equipment available and ensure each worker at the workplace has access to it.
  • Provide easy access to facilities for the first aid administration.
  • Taking into account the appropriate number of workers who are trained to administer first aid at the workplace.

Officers, such as company directors, have a responsibility to ensure due diligence is undertaken, to ensure that the business or undertaking is compliant with current laws and regulations. This includes taking reasonable steps to ensure that a business or undertaking has and uses suitable means and procedures to eradicate or reduce risks to health and safety.

Workers have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and must not undesirably affect the health and safety of others. Employees must conform to any given instruction and collaborate with any reasonable policy or procedure relating to health and safety at the workplace. It is critical that employees act accordingly and report incidents to the proper channels as soon as possible.

What do you need to provide first aid?

First aid requirements are dependent on the following:

  • Nature of the work
  • The kind of threats and hazards
  • Workplace size and location
  • Number of people at the workplace

These factors must be fully considered when deciding what first aid arrangements are needed. Your risk management and your emergency plan must be tailored to match the conditions of your workplace.

Controlling risks at the workplace must be in accordance with a record of injuries, illnesses, and even near misses. This valuable information will be useful in making a comprehensive first aid plan.

In order to be properly protected, everyone needs to know where all the first aid kits are located. Well-positioned visual guides and how-to posters can increase the first aid awareness within a company. Therefore, make sure that your workplace is safe and that you put in all the effort needed to keep it that way.


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