First Aid in the Workplace

Additional material to support your information poster, with a quiz to test your knowledge.


Cardiac Arrest occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating normally. When this happens, blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs. Ventricular fibrillation, the most common cause of Cardiac Arrest, happens when the electrical activity of your heart becomes so chaotic that the heart stops pumping and quivers instead. Sudden Cardiac Arrest can happen at any time. Immediate defibrillation and effective CPR can quadruple someone’s chances of survival. Using an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) is easier than many people think, and they can be used by any bystander without training. 


Whenever you approach an incident, your first consideration should be to protect yourself by making sure that the environment is safe. Check for electricity, fire, fumes, traffic etc. Do NOT move the casualty unless absolutely necessary.


Check if the casualty is conscious or not by calling their name and shaking their shoulders gently. You should also shout loudly for somebody to help you. If someone can help, they should call the Emergency Services and locate an AED while you concentrate on checking the casualty’s ABC’s (Airway, Breathing, and Circulation (CPR).

3. CALL 999 OR 112

If someone has responded and has arrived to help, ask them to call and speak to the Emergency Services; if not, call them yourself. If possible, stay with the victim while making the call. If there is a hands-free speaker function on your phone, activating it may help you communicate with the Ambulance Service while performing CPR.


Check inside the casualty’s mouth for any obvious obstructions. If the airway is clear, turn the victim onto their back (if they are not already on it). Gently tilt their head back, then with your fingertips under the point of the victim’s chin, lift their chin to open the airway.


Look, listen, and feel for normal breathing for no more than 10 seconds. In the first few minutes after Cardiac Arrest, a victim may be barely breathing, or just taking infrequent, slow and noisy gasps. Do not confuse this with normal breathing. If you have any doubt whether their breathing is normal, act as though it is not and prepare to start CPR.



Kneel by the side of the victim and place the heel of one hand on the centre of the victim’s chest; (this is the lower half of the victim’s breastbone/sternum. Place the heel of your other hand on top of the first hand, then interlock the fingers of your hands, ensuring that no pressure is applied to the victim’s ribs. Keep your arms straight. Do not apply any pressure over the upper abdomen or the bottom end of the bony sternum (breastbone). Position your shoulders vertically above the victim’s chest and press down on the sternum to a depth of 5–6 cm (approximately a third of the depth). After each compression, release all the pressure on the chest without losing contact between your hands and the sternum. Repeat 30 times at a rate of 100–120 per minute.


After 30 compressions open the airway again, by using the head tilt and chin lift and give 2 rescue breaths. To give rescue breaths, use the index finger and thumb of your hand that is resting on their forehead to pinch the soft part of their nose closed. Allow the mouth to open, but maintain the chin lift. Take a normal breath then place your lips around their mouth, making sure that you have a good seal. Blow steadily into their mouth while watching for their chest to rise, taking about 1 second as in normal breathing; this is equivalent to one rescue breath.

Maintaining the head tilt and chin lift, remove your mouth from the victim and watch for their chest falling as air comes out, then take another normal breath and blow into the victim’s mouth once more to achieve a total of two effective rescue breaths. Do not interrupt the chest compressions by more than 10 seconds to deliver the two breaths. Next, return your hands without delay to the correct position on the sternum and give a further 30 chest compressions.


Continue with chest compressions and rescue breaths as described above at a ratio of 30:2. If you are untrained or unable to carry out rescue breaths, give chest-compression-only CPR (i.e. continuous compressions at a rate of at least 100–120 per minute).


First, make certain that the casualty is dry. Remove any metal jewellery or under-wired bra’s as these can cause burns. Switch on the AED and attach the electrode pads to the victim’s bare chest in the way that is illustrated on the pad’s diagrams. If more than one rescuer is present, CPR should be continued while the pads are being attached to the chest. Follow the spoken/visual directions of the AED. Ensure that nobody is touching the victim while the AED is analysing the rhythm. 

If a shock is advised, make sure that nobody is touching the victim then push the shock button as directed to deliver a shock. Immediately restart CPR at a ratio of 30:2. Continue as directed by the voice/visual prompts.

If no shock is indicated, continue CPR. Immediately resume CPR.


Do not interrupt resuscitation until a health professional arrives and tells you to stop, or you see the victim definitely waking up, moving, opening their eyes, and breathing normally.

It is rare for CPR alone to restart the heart. Unless you are certain the person has recovered, continue CPR.

If your arms start to tire, see if another person can assist with the chest compressions.

The above information has been based on the guidance of the Resuscitation Council (UK) –  Adult Advanced Life Support 


If the casualty is unresponsive but is breathing normally, turn them into the recovery position. N.B. Often, victims of Cardiac Arrest will have Agonal breathing. Agonal breaths are irregular, slow, and deep breaths, frequently accompanied by a characteristic snoring sound. The presence of Agonal breathing is often wrongly interpreted as evidence of a circulation and that CPR is not needed. This is incorrect. Bystanders should suspect Cardiac Arrest and start CPR if the victim is unresponsive and not breathing normally. 

Putting someone in the recovery position will keep their airway clear and open. It also ensures that any vomit or fluid won’t cause them to choke. If you are confident that the casualty is breathing normally, put them into the recovery position as follows:

  • With the person lying on their back, kneel on the floor at their side.
  • Put their nearest arm to you at a right angle to their body.
  • Draw the furthest arm from you across their chest, and place the back of the hand across their cheek.
  • Keeping this position in place, raise the leg furthest away from you, by grasping the top of the knee.
  • Gently pull on the knee so the casualty pivots over onto their side, facing you.
  • Open their airway by gently tilting their head back and lifting their chin. Check that nothing is blocking their airway.
  • Once you’ve put them safely into the recovery position, call 999 or 112 for urgent medical help.
  • Keep checking their breathing. If at any point they stop breathing, begin CPR as outlined above.

N.B. If you suspect the casualty may have a spinal injury, DO NOT attempt to move them until the Emergency Services reach you.


If you are administering first aid to a casualty who is bleeding heavily, the main aim is to prevent further blood loss and minimise the effects of shock. In this case, shock does not mean emotional shock, but the life-threatening condition often caused by loss of blood.

Although first aid must be given as soon as possible, you should always wear a pair of disposable gloves when you are dealing with a casualty that is bleeding, as it will protect both of you from the spread of any infections.


1. If possible, use a clean pad or dressing to apply pressure to the wound. Maintain the pressure until the bleeding stops.

2. If bleeding continues through the pad, apply another pad over the top and bandage it in place don’t remove the original pad or dressing, but continue to check that the bleeding has stopped.

3. If possible, elevate the injured area above the heart, whilst still applying pressure.

4. If the bleeding is severe, call 999 or 112 and ask for an ambulance as soon as possible.

5. Keep checking the casualty for signs of shock.


  1. Do NOT remove any embedded objects, (they can often be acting as a plug for the bleeding, and removing the object will make it much worse).
  2. Instead of applying pressure directly to the wound with a clean pad or dressing, apply pressure to either side of the embedded object instead.
  3. If possible, elevate the injured area above the heart, whilst still applying pressure.
  4. If the bleeding is severe, call 999 or 112 and ask for an ambulance as soon as possible.
  5. Keep checking the casualty for signs of shock.
  6. If a body part, (such as a finger), has been severed, place it in a plastic bag or wrap it in clingfilm and make sure it goes with the casualty to hospital.
  7. If someone has a nosebleed that hasn’t stopped after 20 minutes, they should be taken to their nearest accident and emergency department (A&E).



  • Quickly remove any clothing or jewellery near the burnt area of skin, as they can trap heat and restrict blood flow to the area if it starts to swell.
  • Do NOT try to remove anything that is stuck to the burnt skin as this could cause more damage.
Reliance Medical Chemical Splash Workplace Poster


  • Cool the burnt area with clean water from a clean container or a tap, continuously for 20 minutes or more. During this time, only apply the water to the burned area. Keep the casualty warm, using a blanket if necessary while the burn is being cooled.
  • Maintaining overall body warmth will prevent hypothermia (a condition where body temperature drops below 35C/95F). This is a risk if you are cooling a large burnt area, particularly with young children and elderly people.


  • Once you are sure that the burnt area has cooled sufficiently, loosely apply a hydrogel burn dressing if available. If not, apply kitchen cling film over the burn to help prevent infection.
  • Do NOT use ice, creams, oil, or other substances. They will not help the wound to heal and they may cause infection or more damage.
Reliance Medical Chemical Splash Workplace Poster


  • With any large or deep burns, e.g. if the burns are larger than the casualty’s hand.
  • With any burns that affect the casualty’s airway.
  • With burns of any size that cause white or charred skin (third-degree burns).
  • With any burns that cause blisters (second and third-degree burns).
  • With all chemical burns.
  • With all electrical burns, as the casualty could be suffering from internal burning.
  • With any incidents involving children, the elderly, or anyone with existing medical conditions.

N.B. If you suspect the casualty may have a spinal injury, DO NOT attempt to move them until the Emergency Services reach you.



  1. Firstly, ask the casualty if they know the source of the contamination. 
  2. Hold the casualty’s eyelid open with your thumb and forefinger, then ask the casualty to look up, down, left, and right so that you can check for any foreign bodies on the eye’s surface. 
  3. If you can see foreign bodies, irrigate the eye.


  1. Sit the casualty down in a comfortable and inclined position, with their head tilted so the affected eye is lower than the unaffected one.
  2. Use sterile eye wash to irrigate the eye. If this is unavailable, use clean water from a clean container, or cool water straight from the tap. 
  3. If using sterile eye wash, ensure that the bottle is sealed, in-date, and that the contents are clear before using them. 
  4. If using tap water, ensure the temperature is cool, not warm, and only use a container that is completely clean.
  5. Wash the eye out by pouring water from the inner corner of the eye outward for 10 seconds at a time, allowing the casualty to blink in-between.
  6. Continue irrigating until the foreign body is removed. 


  1. If irrigating the eye does not work, cover the injury with a sterile eye pad dressing and seek medical attention immediately. If it will be a while before you can get medical help, use a bandage to hold the pad in place.
  2. Advise the patient to keep the uninjured eye closed (if possible) to reduce the risk of movement of the injured eye.
  3. N.B. If a large fragment of material is protruding from the eye, first immobilise it with rolled dressings on either side of the object rather than putting a dressing over the top, as this would cause further damage.
  4. Take the casualty to your nearest Accident and Emergency Department (A&E), immediately. 

First Aid in the Workplace Quiz

A short quiz to test your knowledge of First Aid in the Workplace.

All information is for guidance only and correct at time of publication.