Injuries and Illness

Bill Just Stopped Breathing! What Do We Do?

Yesterday we looked at the necessity of having employees trained in first aid present in every work area and on every shift. Today we look at one of the most frightening workplace emergencies—stopped breathing—and a tool that can help solve your first-aid and other workplace training needs.

When a person stops breathing following a workplace accident or other medical emergency, fast action is critical. Someone who stops breathing can die or suffer brain damage in minutes without prompt and proper help. BLR’s 7-Minute Safety Trainer says you should train your workers to:

  • Know whom to contact if someone stops breathing.
  • Make the call quickly.
  • Have help come to the victim; don’t move the person.

Co-workers must react quickly, and first steps should include:

  • If it’s safe to approach, kneel beside the person, tap him or her, and shout, “Are you OK?”
  • Shake the person to determine consciousness if there’s no possibility of neck or back injury.
  • Call for help or ask others in the area to phone for medical aid and bring a pocket mouth-to-mouth resuscitation device if there’s one in the first aid kit.
  • If the person doesn’t respond to calling or shaking, check for breathing by:
    • Looking to see if his/her chest is rising and falling
    • Putting your ear to the person’s mouth and nose to listen and feel for breathing

Think you have no time to train? Think again. BLR’s 7-Minute Safety Trainer lets you fulfill all key OSHA required training tasks in as little as 7 minutes. Try it at no cost and see! Find out more.


If the person is not breathing and no one trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is present, co-workers should:

  • Lay the victim on his or her back.
  • Loosen clothing around the victim’s neck.
  • Check that nothing is blocking the mouth or throat.
  • Tilt the person’s head back slightly and lift under the chin to open the airway.
  • Hold the person’s mouth open with your thumb.
  • Pinch the person’s nose and cover his or her mouth with yours; try to make a leakproof seal.
  • Use a disposable pocket mouth-to-mouth resuscitation device, if available.
  • Blow into the person’s mouth once every 5 seconds (every 3 seconds for a child).
    • Repeat until you see the person’s chest rise and fall, and see or feel breathing from his or her mouth.
  • Remove your mouth and let the person exhale.
  • Blow into the person’s mouth several more times for a second or so until he or she is able to breathe unaided.

7-Minute Safety Trainer stresses the importance of avoiding actions that could further harm the victim. To make sure that doesn’t happen:

  • Don’t move the person unless it’s necessary to save his or her life.
  • Summon medical help as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t provide medication without medical supervision.
  • If you’re not sure what to do, don’t do anything until medical help arrives.

If you haven’t taken CPR training, you should. The Red Cross and similar agencies regularly offer CPR courses. Once you have completed your training, you should inform management that you’ve been trained and are available to help in an emergency.

These tips were excerpted from the 7-Minute Safety Trainer session called “First Aid for Stopped Breathing.” In addition to the trainer’s outline, the session also includes an illustrated handout, quiz, and quiz answers.


Try 7-Minute Safety Trainer at no cost or risk. Get the details.


All told, 7-Minute Safety Trainer contains 50 prewritten meetings covering almost every aspect of safety you’d want or need to train on, in a format designed to be taught in as little as 7 minutes. You can view a complete table of contents here, but the major topics include:

Confined spaces
—Electrical safety
—Fire safety and emergency response
—HazCom
—Machine guarding and lockout/tagout
—Material handling
—PPE use and care
—Housekeeping/slips, trips, and falls
and dozens more

Just make as many copies as needed of the included handouts and quizzes, and you’re ready to train. You can view materials from a sample module here.  

Equally important is that when new or changed regulations compel new training topics or training needs to be freshened, the program ships new meetings every quarter. This service is included in the program price, which averages just over $1 a working day. In fact, this is one of BLR’s most popular safety programs.

If you’d like to personally evaluate 7-Minute Safety Trainer and see how it can build safety awareness, we’ll be happy to send it to you for 30 days, on a no-cost, no-obligation trial basis. Just let us know and we’ll arrange it.

Download Table of Contents
Download Sample Safety Meeting

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