First Aid Training Courses Contribute to a Healthier, Safer Workplace
Have you ever taken a first aid training course? I’ve had friends and colleagues learn first aid in health classes in school, or through their kids’ scouting programs, or during a course of instruction to get certified for something else (child care, scuba diving instructor...you name it). Rarely do I hear about people receiving quality first aid training in the workplace.
This is odd, given that most of us spend about a third of our days in the workplace (with the exception of COVID-19 quarantine, of course). Statistically, a minor illness or injury will happen at every workplace at some point! And yet only 45% of U.S. employees have been trained in first aid, according to Safety+Health magazine.
The best, most productive workplaces do offer it. It goes without saying that employees’ health and safety is a top concern of management. (Without those things, professional goals or personal development don’t mean much.) Your employees will also feel more confident and less anxious, knowing that everyone knows how to respond to an accident or health issue that comes up in the workplace.
Here’s a list of some of the more common needs for first aid training courses that pop up during work. (Note that HSI has short microlearning courses on all of them, so if you’d like to see, you can view here.)
The CDC estimates that one in 10 people will have a seizure in their lifetime. There are many different possible causes of a seizure, from an adverse drug interaction to a brain injury to a chronic condition like epilepsy.
Most seizures pass and, thankfully, do not require emergency medical treatment. Seizures—and particularly grand mal seizures—can still be disconcerting, however, for both the person having the seizure and those looking on.
So, co-workers should be able to recognize the signs of a seizure and know how to react. For example, if someone witnesses a co-worker having a seizure, they should check to see if the colleague is wearing a medical bracelet, in case the seizure is related to an underlying condition. This might be a sign to get more help. Otherwise, the key is to keep the person calm and comfortable until the seizure passes.
Automated external defibrillator (AED) devices are popping up in public places like restaurants, gyms, schools, and office buildings. And yet the American Heart Association estimates that only 50% of workers even know where to find one!
Thankfully, most AEDs come with clear instructions. Still, when it comes to cardiac arrest, every second counts, and quick action is essential. Prior training with an AED could save someone’s life. It’s also natural to pair AED training with similar topics, such as how to respond if someone becomes unconscious, checking for breathing, and performing CPR.
One of the biggest roadblocks to responsive first aid with an AED is getting bystanders to recognize when one is needed, and to empower them to act. This requires knowing how adults learn such skills and giving them a mix of visual elements, discussion, and simulation or role play.
More than 30 million people have diabetes in the United States, and another 84 million are in the pre-diabetic range, according to the CDC. Controlling the disease requires a mix of lifestyle changes that include diet, exercise, and regular insulin injections.
How can you encourage those lifestyle changes to help your employees with diabetes manage their condition and stay productive through the workday? Training on a healthy lifestyle is a good start. More importantly, other employees should know how to handle a situation where diabetes gets out of hand. For example, they should know what symptoms are associated with diabetic episodes (diabetic shock or diabetic coma), how to provide first aid, and when it’s appropriate to call 911.
Do you know someone who eats at work? Trick question—we all do this ourselves, right? Which means there is always a chance of a choking hazard. While many of us had to learn the Heimlich maneuver in grade school, it’s likely been a long time since we’ve had to use it, if used at all.
Our training video helps employees know when to intervene and when not to intervene in a choking scenario, and what to do if someone’s life is truly at risk. By making this information second nature, it helps employees to act quickly in a critical situation.
There are some workplaces where burns are a common cause for concern—I’m thinking factories or labs that handle very hot materials, for example, or that still make use of boilers or other machinery that uses steam. (These potential risks are why we have such an extensive library on safety training topics, by the way.)
Burns can still happen in other workplace settings as well. Hot coffee or food coming out of the microwave, for example, can cause a serious burn. I once heard a story of an intern who burned their fingers on a piece of computer equipment that had heated up when a fan was not placed correctly.
The good news is that most people will recover from burns without serious health consequences, though this depends a lot on the cause of the burn, and the degree of the injury. Recovery happens more quickly if the burn is treated right away. For example, if an employee experiences a burn, they should treat it with a cool, wet compress or else immerse the burned area in cool, fresh water. Once the pain lessens, they can cover the burn with a bandage or sterile gauze. Taking such steps quickly will help reduce the pain and begin the healing.
Our training video on burns not only covers these kinds of first aid steps, but also reviews types and seriousness of burns so employees understand when medical attention is needed.
Nothing slows down work like a broken bone and the inevitable cast or brace that comes with it. While some jobs might lend themselves to the risk of broken bones—like a roofer, or someone who operates heavy machinery—there is a lot less risk in an office environment. But think outside the office too. A bit of fun over the weekend or at a corporate event can lead to a work-stopping fracture. We even had someone here at HSI break an arm falling off a hoverboard in the office!
Because it might not be clear whether an injury involves a broken bone or just a sprain or bruise, first aid training on the topic can come in handy. Rendering aid by immobilizing, wrapping, or making a splint might be necessary until the employee can get an x-ray or MRI.
Cuts, Scrapes, and Bites
Cuts and scrapes are some of the most common types of injury, and they can happen anywhere. Bites are more uncommon, but depending on the job, a worker could come in contact with an animal (or even a bite from a human being). Again, acting quickly is the key to making sure the injury heals quickly and has minimal impact on the employee and their productivity.
For example, do your employees know how to stop bleeding from a serious cut? Or otherwise wrap a wound? Do they know when to seek further medical attention? Or call animal control? Learning how to assess a medical situation and determine whether further help is necessary should be a high priority when it comes to first aid skills taught to your employees.
Being Prepared Can Save Lives
While some organizations provide basic OSHA training or CPR training for compliance reasons, first aid training courses can and should go well beyond that material.
Yes, accidents and illness tend to be rare (thankfully). Because they are rare, no one expects to get hurt or fall seriously ill at work. No one expects to witness it happening to a co-worker, either. But, as the above topics show, the need for first aid is not uncommon.
That’s why first aid training courses are so important: Employees learn what to do in these circumstances, and are thus more able to “jump into action,” possibly preventing further injury or even death.
Presentation matters, however. Topics need to be presented with sensitivity and tact, using a combination of written and spoken instruction, along with eye-catching graphics. The goal is not to overwhelm employees with information, but to present basic skills in smaller, digestible chunks that they will remember.
If done right, this turns into something more than just on-the-job first aid training. It can be valuable life skills they will remember for years to come.
- First Aid Training for Employees: Real Life Examples of Why You Need It
- Check out our First Aid Training Topics
- Check out our Safety Training Topics
- Read our blog on Office Safety Training for Employees