|The Organization of First Aid in the Workplace (ILO, 1999, 70 p.)|
|4. How first aid is organized|
|4.1. Variables to be considered in the assessment of first-aid requirements|
The risks of injury vary greatly from one enterprise and from one occupation to another. Even within a single enterprise, such as a metalworking firm, different risks will exist depending on whether the worker is engaged in the handling and cutting of metal sheets (where cuts are frequent), welding (with the risk of burns and electrocution), the assembly of parts, or metal plating (which has the potential for poisoning and skin injury). The risks associated with one type of work will vary according to many other factors, such as the design and the age of the machinery used, the maintenance of the equipment, the safety measures applied and their regular control.
The ways in which the type of work or the associated risks influence the organization of first aid have been fully recognized in most legislation concerning first aid. The equipment and supplies required for first aid, or the number of first-aid personnel and their training, may vary in accordance with the type of work and the associated risks.
Countries use different models for classifying the type of work and the associated risks for the purpose of planning first aid and deciding whether higher or lower requirements are to be set. A distinction is sometimes made between the type of work and the specific potential risks. Some of the legislation listed in Annex I may serve as examples.
Type of work or enterprise
A distinction may be made between:
- low risk, e.g. in offices or shops;
- higher risk, e.g. in warehouses, farms and in some factories and yards;
- specific or unusual risks, e.g. in steel making (especially when working on furnaces), coking, non-ferrous smelting and processing, forging, foundries; shipbuilding, quarrying, mining or other underground work; work in compressed air and diving operations; construction, lumbering and woodworking; abattoirs and rendering plants; transportation and shipping; most industries involving harmful or dangerous substances.
Even in enterprises which seem clean and safe, many types of injuries can occur. Serious injuries may result from falling, striking against objects or contact with sharp edges or moving vehicles. All these may be found even in small enterprises, and the organization of first aid is necessary at all workplaces.
The specific requirements for first aid will vary depending on whether the following might be expected (see also Chapter I):
- serious cuts, the severing of limbs;
- crushing injuries and entanglements;
- high risks of spreading fire and explosions;
- intoxication by chemicals at work;
- other chemical exposure;
- exposure to excessive heat or cold;
- lack of oxygen;
- exposure to infectious agents, animal bites and stings.
The above is only a general guide. The detailed assessment of the potential risks in the working environment helps greatly to identify the need for first aid.