First Aid in the Workplace

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

CARDIAC ARREST

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 AED is easier than many people think, and they can be used by any bystander without training. 

1. MAKE SURE THE AREA IS SAFE

Whenever you approach an incident, your first consideration should be to make sure that the environment is safe. Check for electricity, fire, fumes, traffic etc. Do NOT move the casualty unless you need to.

2. CHECK FOR A RESPONSE

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 move onto 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 the helper to call and talk to the Emergency Services. Otherwise, call them yourself. Stay with the victim while making the call if possible. It is a good idea to activate the speaker function on the phone to aid communication with the Ambulance Service, while you begin CPR.

4. EXAMINE AIRWAY

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 the head back; with your fingertips under the point of the victim’s chin, lift the chin to open the airway.

5. CHECK BREATHING

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 breathing is normal, act though they are not and prepare to start CPR.

6. ADMINISTER CPR

GIVE 30 COMPRESSIONS

Kneel by the side of the victim, and place the heel of one hand in 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 and ensure that pressure is not applied over 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.

GIVE 2 RESCUE BREATHS

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

Maintaining head tilt and chin lift, take your mouth away from the victim and watch for the chest to fall 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 compressions by more than 10 seconds to deliver two breaths. Then return your hands without delay to the correct position on the sternum and give a further 30 chest compressions.

GIVE 30 MORE COMPRESSIONS

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

7. USE AN AED

Switch on the AED, and attach the electrode pads on the victim’s bare chest in the way that is illustrated on the pad’s diagrams. You should ensure that the casualty is dry, and remove any metal jewellery or under-wired bra’s as this can cause burns. If more than one rescuer is present, CPR should be continued while electrode 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, deliver a shock. Ensure that nobody is touching the victim, then push shock button as directed. 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.

8. CONTINUE CPR

Do not interrupt resuscitation until either a health professional has arrived in the Ambulance and tells you to stop, you become exhausted or the victim is definitely waking up, moving, opening eyes and breathing normally. 

It is rare for CPR alone to restart the heart.

Unless you are certain the person has recovered continue CPR.

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

THE RECOVERY POSITION

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 interpreted incorrectly 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:

  • With the person lying on their back, kneel on the floor at their side.
  • Put the nearest arm to you at a right angle to the body.
  • Draw the furthest arm from you across their chest, and place the back of the hand across their cheek.
  • Keep this position in place while you 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, and 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.

SEVERE BLEEDING

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.

IF THERE IS NO OBJECT EMBEDDED INTO THE WOUND:

1. Apply and maintain pressure to the wound, using a clean pad or dressing if possible. Continue to apply 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.

IF THERE IS AN OBJECT EMBEDDED INTO THE WOUND: 

  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 object.
  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).

BURNS

REMOVE CLOTHING AND JEWELLERY FROM THE AREA

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

COOL THE BURN WITH COOL OR LUKEWARM WATER

  • 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 warmth will prevent hypothermia where a person’s 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.

DRESS THE BURN

  • Once that you have ensured that the burnt area has cooled sufficiently, loosely apply a hydrogel burn dressing if available. If not, you can apply clingfilm to the area, as this will 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

WHEN TO GO TO A&E

  • Any large or deep burns, e.g. if the burns are larger than the casualty’s hand.
  • Any burns that affect the casualty’s airway.
  • Burns of any size that cause white or charred skin (third-degree burns).
  • Any burns that cause blisters (second and third-degree burns).
  • All chemical burns.
  • All electrical burns, as the casualty could be suffering from internal burning.
  • 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.

EYES

EXAMINE THE EYE:

  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 you can check for any foreign bodies on the eye’s surface. 
  3. If you can see foreign bodies on the surface of the eye, irrigate the eye.

IRRIGATE THE EYE:

  1. Sit the casualty down in a comfortable inclined position, with the head tilted so the affected eye is lower than the other.
  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 this until the foreign body is removed. 


DRESS THE EYE:

  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, then you can hold the pad in place with a bandage.
  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 there is a large piece protruding from the eye, first immobilise 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.