FIRST AID BASICS

Contractors are required to have at least one person on the worksite with first aid training. However, it is a good idea for everyone to have some basic knowledge of first aid.

All jobsites must have a readily accessible first aid kit that meets ANSI standards (ANSI Z308.1-2015). Keep in mind that ANSI standards are minimum. You may need to supplement your kits with additional supplies and equipment based on your access to emergency medical services or to handle severe injuries, injuries to multiple patients or CPR on more than one person.

To ensure the safety of everyone on your jobsite:

  • Maintain your first aid kits in a place that is accessible to everyone. All contractors should know the location of the kits. Never lock them up.
  • Inventory your first aid kits regularly to ensure emergency supplies are ready. Designate someone to be responsible for maintaining and restocking the kits.
  • Make sure all contractors know who the first aid responders are on their jobsite and how to contact them. There should be a first aid responder for each shift, including holidays.
  • Make sure the first aid responder is easy to identify. Usually a sticker on the safety helmet will suffice.
  • Provide at least one accessible phone that dials out to 911.
  • Keep enough PPE on hand.

Keep a bloodborne pathogen protection kit with your first aid kit. This kit should include nitrile exam gloves, eye protection, an apron and CPR shield/mask.

FIRST AID RESPONSE

  • Immediately contact your on-site first aid responder.
  • If necessary, have someone call 911.
  • Remove the hazard from the victim if it is safe to do so. Do not move the victim unless it is absolutely necessary (i.e., patient is in immediate danger).
  • Remain with the victim and give reassurance. Unless you absolutely need to signal or call for help, stay with the person at all times.
  • Once you’ve established that the victim is breathing and has a pulse, look for bleeding. Your first priority should be to stop any bleeding. Use direct pressure on a wound before trying any other method to manage the bleeding.
  • Make the person as comfortable as possible, but do not move the injured person’s head or prop it up on a pillow.
  • Do not give the victim food or drinks. It is appropriate to moisten their lips if they need it.
  • Do not allow the person to smoke.

These are just a few things each person should know about first aid. While most of us won’t be the designated first aid responder, there may be instances where you will need to step in until the first responder arrives.

Download the printable PDF and Recording Form here.

HEAT STRESS

What Is Heat Stress?

Working muscles need a greater blood flow to cool the body. The body needs to shift blood away from muscles to assure an ideal sweat rate and to cool the blood. Dehydration can cause low blood volume, which can lower the body’s ability to cool the blood, leading to confusion, fatigue and potentially, heat illness.

Dry Clothes and Skin Don’t Mean You Aren’t Sweating!

You may not feel wet or sticky in dryer climates, but you are still sweating. You can lose as much as 68 ounces (half a gallon) of fluid on a very warm day. Fainting (heat syncope) may be a problem for workers who simply stand still in the heat when they are not acclimated to a hot environment. Victims usually recover quickly after lying down for a brief period. Moving around, rather than standing still, usually reduces the possibility of fainting.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

  • Headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting.
  • Weakness and moist skin.
  • Mood changes such as irritability or confusion.
  • Upset stomach or vomiting.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

  • Dry, hot skin with no sweating.
  • Mental confusion or losing consciousness.
  • Seizures or convulsions.

Ways to Prevent Heat Stress

  • Hydrating before work activity is crucial. Consume water or an electrolyte beverage 24 hours prior to activity.
  • Drink 16 ounces of water two-three hours before work activity.
  • Drink water frequently (every 15-30 minutes, drink six-12 ounces)
  • Most people consume enough salt in their diets. Salt tablets are NOT necessary for general use.
  • Post work activity – drink 16 ounces of water for every pound of weight loss.
  • Take breaks and move a person showing symptoms of heat stress away from heat sources or direct sunlight.
  • Utilize ventilation or fans in enclosed areas.
  • It takes one-two weeks for the body to adjust to higher temperatures. This adaptation to heat can be quickly lost, so your body will have to adjust after a vacation.
  • Avoid caffeine (makes the body lose water and increases the risk for heat illness).
  • Avoid alcohol consumption. Many cases of heat stroke have occurred the day after heavy drinking.
  • Wear light-colored, cotton clothes, and keep your shirt on.

What to Do for Heat-Related Illness

  1. Call 911 at once if a worker exhibits heat stroke symptoms.
  2. Move the worker to a cool, shaded area.
  3. Loosen or remove heavy clothing.
  4. Provide cool drinking water.
  5. Fan and mist the person with water.

Download the printable PDF and Recording Form here.

Emergency action plan-active shooter

Active shooters are becoming more prevelant in the workplace, and you should know what to do in case an active shooter takes aim on your construction site or in the office.

Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. These situations often last only 10 to 15 minutes, many times before law enforcement arrives on the scene. So you should know in advance the steps to take to help you survive.

Have an emergency action plan and practice it. Some companies enlist the help of law enforcement for training exercises. Foster an environment where employees feel comfortable reporting unusual behavior or circumstances.

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security document, Active Shooter – How to Respond, gives guidelines to follow if you are in an active shooter situation. Here are a few of them.

RUN

  • Be aware of your environment and know at least two possible avenues of escape.
  • If there is an accessible escape path, run – even if others refuse to follow. Leave all personal items behind.
  • Help others escape if possible, but do not attempt to move wounded people.
  • If law enforcement is not on the scene, call 911 as soon as you are safe.
  • If law enforcement is on the scene, keep your hands visible at all times so they can see that you are not hiding anything.

HIDE

  • If running is not possible, find a place to hide.
  • If inside, lock the door and barricade it with heavy furniture.
  • Hide behind large objects.
  • Call 911. If you cannot speak because the shooter is close by, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen.
  • If your cell phone is not in use, put it on vibrate and stay quiet.

FIGHT

As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter. Act as aggressively as possible against the shooter. Throw items, improvise weapons, and yell. There is safety in numbers, so when possible, attack as a group.

Download a recording form here.

First Aid Refresher – Part 3

Part 1 of this series covered what to do when you initially approach an injured person. Part 2 outlined things that you should never do when providing first aid, as well as the basic treatment for bleeding and shock. In this final section, we will continue our discussion of first aid basics for several common conditions.

Broken Bone

  • Immobilize the area.
  • Numb the pain. Often, this can be done with an ice pack covered by a towel.
  • Make a splint. A bundle of newspapers and sturdy tape could do the trick. You could also stabilize a broken finger by taping it to an unbroken finger.
  • Make a sling, if necessary. Tie a shirt or a pillowcase around a broken arm and then around the shoulder.

Choking

Choking can cause death or permanent brain damage within minutes. The following describes how to use the Heimlich maneuver to clear the airway of a choking victim:

  • From behind, wrap your arms around the victim’s waist.
  • Make a fist and place the thumb side of your fist against the victim’s upper abdomen, below the ribcage and above the navel.
  • Grasp your fist with your other hand and press into their upper abdomen with a quick upward thrust. Do not squeeze the ribcage. Confine the force of the thrust to your hands.
  • Repeat until object is expelled.

Burns

Treat first- and second-degree burns by immersing or flushing them with cool water. Don’t use ice, creams, butter or other ointments, and do not pop blisters. Cover third-degree burns with a damp cloth. Remove clothing and jewelry from the burn if possible, but do not try to remove charred clothing that is stuck to the burn.

Possible Concussion

If the victim has suffered a blow to the head, look for signs of concussion. Common symptoms of concussion include: loss of consciousness following the injury, disorientation or memory impairment, vertigo, nausea and lethargy. Keep the injured person lying down and still.

Spinal Injury

If you suspect a spinal injury, it is especially critical that you not move the victim’s head, neck or back unless he/she is in immediate danger. Keep the person still. If the victim needs CPR, do not tilt the head back to open the airway. Use your fingers to gently grasp the jaw and lift it forward.

Seizure

Seizures can be scary. Luckily, helping people with seizures is relatively straightforward. Help the victim lie down to avoid injury, and let the seizure run its course. Following the seizure, check to see if the victim is breathing. If not, perform CPR at once. As soon as you can, write down any details that might help medical professionals diagnose the patient’s condition.

In all situations, use common sense, and call 911 as necessary.