|The Organization of First Aid in the Workplace (ILO, 1999, 70 p.)|
|1. Why first aid and the organization of first aid?|
Despite preventive action, accidents do happen. This is unfortunate, but true at many workplaces. Most injuries at work are not severe or life-threatening. This fact should not be overlooked when first aid is discussed. It is clear that when a hand is severed in an accident with a chainsaw, rapid first aid to stop the bleeding and deal with shock is imperative, and further emergency treatment should follow as soon as possible. However, for one such case there are many minor cases, for example, persons suffering simple cuts or contusions which need unsophisticated treatment (for example, disinfection, sterilized dressing, checking that immunization against tetanus is valid). Immediately available first aid is an essential service in situations where no health personnel are available. However, it must be emphasized that professional medical care may still be needed on the day or the days that follow. First-aid personnel must clearly point out that injured persons should always take it upon themselves to consult a physician so that the necessary treatment is given under medical supervision.
The case described in the preceding paragraph is consistent with the primary health care approach referred to in the preface.3 This involves the treatment of a common injury by an immediately available first-aider, health education and the acceptance by the individual of responsibility for his or her own health, including possible referral for more advanced medical care. The approach emphasizes the need to combine the delivery of first aid with advice and information to the worker on follow-up actions and professional medical care required.
Some generalizations may be made regarding accidents at work and the severity of injuries. It appears that the most common causes of injuries are found in rather ordinary events like stumbling, falling, the handling of materials, the use of tools or being struck by falling objects. However, when planning for first aid, primary attention should be paid to manifestations in the victims of an accident rather than the accident itself. These include, in particular, crushed and broken bones and joints, bleeding, shock, respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest, burns including chemical burns, other skin injuries or eye injuries. Therefore, first aid needs specific knowledge about these common manifestations.