Emergency Preparedness and Response

Worker Down! What Happens Next?

There are over 4 million workplace accidents every year resulting in injuries and illness. Quick response at the scene of an accident keeps a bad situation from getting worse and may even save a life.

You work hard to prevent workplace accidents. But despite your best efforts, there is always at least a possibility that an injury could occur. If that were to happen, you’d want to be confident that your employees could act fast and effectively.

Here are five basic steps workplace first-aid responders must take very quickly in the event of a medical emergency. They must:

  1. Make sure the scene is safe. Employees should be warned not to rush into the scene of an accident before checking to make sure that it is safe for rescuers to enter. Otherwise, you could end up with more victims.
  2. Call for help. An employee on the scene should call 911 while a trained emergency first responder tends to the victim. The employee on the phone should explain the kind of injury, the exact location of the victim, and the phone number from which the call is being made. The caller should remain on the phone in case the 911 operator has further questions. There’s no time to waste in an emergency and often no way to know how serious the emergency is, so it is important that employees remain calm and act quickly and purposefully.
  3. Bring help to the victim. To prevent further injury, victims should not be moved unless they are in imminent danger where they are.
  4. Check to see if the victim is breathing and has a heartbeat. If not, someone trained in CPR should try to keep the victim alive until EMS arrives.
  5. Do no further harm. Employees who provide first aid should be careful not to cause additional injuries in their attempt to help a victim. If they are not absolutely sure what to do, they should do nothing except call for emergency medical assistance and keep the victim comfortable until help arrives. Doing the wrong thing could be worse for the victim than doing nothing.

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Train Emergency Responders

You may not be able to train all your employees in first aid, but you need a well-trained corps of workers on every shift who know exactly what to do when a co-worker gets hurt. Your emergency first responders should know how to deal with all these emergencies:

  • Bleeding
  • Amputations
  • Shock
  • Broken bones
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Eye injuries
  • Electrical shock
  • Burns (heat and chemical)
  • Chemical exposure
  • Not breathing/no pulse
  • Choking
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Heat- and cold-related illness
  • Epileptic seizure
  • Fainting

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Other Workers Can Help, Too

A cardinal rule for workplace first aid is that employees should never try to do more than they know they can handle in a medical emergency.
There are many ways for those who are not trained in first aid or those who are uncomfortable dealing with injuries to help. For example, in an emergency, people are needed to:

  • Make the 911 call and stay on the line with the dispatcher.
  • Notify a supervisor, the safety manager, and others.
  • Get first-aid supplies (Make sure you have full kits in every work area.).
  • Go to meet EMS at the entrance to your facility and bring them to the scene of the accident.

Keep workers who are not involved in emergency response clear of the area, and once the victim or victims are removed, cordon off the accident area to preserve evidence for the accident investigation.

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