First aid: use these questions to assess your readiness

Mar 04, 2014

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, and why businesses participating in WSPS's Safety Group program believe first aid to be so important they chose it as their common element for 2014.1

Test your workplace's readiness with these 20 questions, compiled with input from Hamish Morgan, a WSPS consultant with extensive experience in first aid training and preparedness, and Jan Holzinger, a registered nurse and sales manager of Active Canadian Emergency Training Inc.

Managing your first aid program:

  1. Are you compliant with first aid requirements? For instance, do you have certified first aiders on hand at all times? Morgan encourages his clients to take a "more is better" approach, offering first aid training to any employee who's interested. "A good rule of thumb is 10% of your workforce," says Jan Holzinger, "but the actual number depends on multiple factors, such as the size of your facility, work performed, number of shifts… People will tell me, 'We have two trained supervisors on every shift.' So what happens if one is away, and it's the other supervisor who needs medical aid?"
  2. Are first aiders appropriately certified? Have you posted their certificates and WSIB's "In All Cases of Injury/Disease" poster where all workers can see them?
  3. Has your first aid program kept up with workplace changes that may affect accessibility?
  4. Are first aid equipment and supplies fully stocked and available? Do you have a process in place for checking supplies? Can first aiders readily access supplies so that they can start treatment in three minutes or less?
  5. Do you have enough first aid stations or rooms for the size and layout of your facility? Eye wash fountains or deluge showers? Do workers know how to operate them in an emergency?
  6. Do you have a process for recording and reviewing treatment provided? "Trend analyses may help identify opportunities for improvement," says Morgan.
  7. Do your emergency response provisions include first aid? "If you had to evacuate the facility," asks Morgan, "how would you treat injured workers?"
  8. Do you have a process for getting workers to a medical facility and back to work or home? Who would accompany injured workers?
  9. Delivering first aid.
  10. Have your first aiders received the required training? If so, do they feel confident responding to a medical emergency? "If they don't," says Holzinger, "then they may hesitate or hold back."
  11. Do you have an emergency response plan or internal communication mechanism in place to activate first aiders? Some organizations call this a "Code Orange."
  12. Do your first aiders understand and apply universal precautions?
  13. Do they have all the emergency contact numbers they need?
  14. Are they familiar with all areas of the workplace, including how to enter and exit them, and related hazards?
  15. Engaging all employees.
  16. Is first aid part of your orientation training?
  17. Do employees know what steps to take if an incident occurs?
  18. 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.
  19. Is first aid part of regular safety communications, such as toolbox talks?
  20. What to ask first aid providers.
  21. Is the agency accredited with the WSIB? "This is a minimum requirement," says Holzinger. "A starting point rather than an end point."
  22. What expertise do instructors have? "Being a paramedic doesn't automatically make you a good instructor," says Holzinger. "What additional expertise do they have?"
  23. How does the agency measure trainers' performance? "It's all about quality assurance."
  24. Will the agency tailor the training to hazards typical of your industry?


How WSPS can help:

Download these resources:

Ask a consultant how you can strengthen your first aid program.

Check out first aid providers at Partners in Prevention 2014 Health & Safety Conference & Trade Show, taking place April 29-30 in Mississauga. Active Canadian Emergency Training Inc. will be there under the banner of its parent company, Workplace Medical Corp.

1. Under Safety Groups, each business chooses four elements of a health and safety program to work on over a calendar year. All businesses also work on a common element. Within five years, participants will have implemented 25 elements that form the basis of a sustainable health and safety program. Safety Group members can receive a WSIB rebate based on successfully completing action plans and reducing the frequency rate and severity of lost-time injuries.