Accidents can occur at any workplace. Therefore it’s crucial to learn basic first aid.
Equipped with the right first aid knowledge, you’ll be able to preserve life, reduce the condition from worsening, and promote recovery.
While at it, be observant, calm, resourceful, comforting, and cheerful. And above all, you’ll need a well-equipped first aid kit.
Ready to learn? Let’s get started!
First off, you have to always assess DRABC. That is;
Danger: Check out for any possible danger to you, the casualty and others
Response: Check the casualty’s response. If unconscious get help immediately, if conscious ask the casualty their name, or ask them to gently squeeze your hand.
Airway: Check if the airway is open and clear of objects. If clogged, open mouth and remove the foreign object with your finger, then gently tilt the head backwards.
Breathing: Check that the chest is rising and falling by hearing and feeling the breathing. If the casualty is breathing, keep on checking for continued breathing. If the casualty is not breathing, turn the person on their back and seek immediate help.
Circulation: Check for signs of circulation by checking the neck pulse, looking for swallowing or breathing movement and also by observing the face’s skin colour.
Now let’s take a closer look at how to manage some of the common injuries in the workplace.
Remember this should not substitute first aid training courses offered by an accredited training provider.
1. Asthma Attack
An asthma attack occurs when the airway suddenly narrows making it difficult for one to breathe normally. It’s mainly triggered by pollen, dust, cold, smoke, air pollution, allergy, and stress. The signs include:
- Increased wheezing
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty speaking
- Blue or grey lips and nails
Taking quick action can prevent an asthma attack from becoming an asthma emergency. Here is how:
- Monitor the lifeline DRABC
- Sit the person in an upright comfortable position and ask them to breathe slowly and deeply.
- Administer four puffs of the asthma reliever e.g. Ventolin or Asmol.
- Wait for another 4 minutes and observe if the person can breathe normally. If not, administer another 4 puffs
- If the person still can’t breathe normally, call an ambulance immediately. State that someone is having an asthma attack.
- Keep giving the reliever after every 4 minutes until the ambulance arrives.
- For severe attacks on adults, you can give 6-8 puffs every 4 minutes.
- Keep monitoring their breathing, level of response and pulse.
2. Bloody Nose
The rapture of tiny blood vessels inside the nose can cause one or both nostrils to bleed. This can be caused by several factors. Read on to find out how to control the bleeding and open the airway.
- Get the person to sit down, never let him lie down because keeping the nose above the heart reduces bleeding.
- Get the person to slightly lean forward to ensure blood drains out through the nose. Never ask the person to lean backwards. This will make blood flow into their throat and possibly block the airway.
- Ask the person to gently pinch the soft part of the nostrils while breathing through the mouth. Let this last for ten minutes, take a small break and then repeat until the bleeding stops.
- Tell the person to avoid speaking, swallowing, spitting, sneezing or coughing as this may break the forming blood clots in the nose.
- Seek immediate medical attention:
- If the bleeding doesn’t stop after twenty minutes
- If the nosebleed happened spontaneously
- If the casualty experiences a headache, dizziness, ringing in the ear or vision problems
First Aid Kits
Regularly stocked First Aid Kits. Different kinds. Always up to date with the rules and regulations.
- Pain in the burned area
- Reddened skin
- Difficulty in breathing (if the burn is on the airway)
How to manage dry burns:
- If the person’s clothes are on fire, stop, drop and roll them.
- Assess DRABC and attend to any urgent injuries
- Flood the injured area with cold running water for at least 10 minutes
- Monitor the casualty’s vital signs as you wait for help
- Stinging pain
- Peeling and swelling of the affected area
- Presence of chemical tins or bottles
How to manage chemical burns:
- Assess DRABC (as outlined above)
- Ensure proper ventilation, otherwise, move the casualty to a safer place
- If the chemical is solid or in powdered form, brush if off the casualties clothing
- Flood the area with cold running water for 10 minutes
- Gently take off any clothing that may have in contact with the chemicals
- Dress the affected area to avoid infection
- Keep on checking the casualty’s vital signs as you wait for help
- Casualty has signs of shock
- Brown coppery stuff on the skin (if burn resulted from high voltage)
- Skin turns brownish, whitish or black
How to manage:
- Turn off electricity from the main power source. To safely do that, stand on a pile of newspapers, or a wooden surface and use a wooden stick to switch the power off
- Using a piece of wood, remove the casualty away from the danger.
- Assess DRABC and attend to urgent injuries
- Cool the affected area with water
- Dress the affected area
- Treat for shock
Fainting normally occurs when there is insufficient blood flow to the brain causing the person to lose responsiveness and often falling to the ground. Common causes of fainting are pain, hunger, exhaustion, emotional stress and standing or sitting for long periods.
- Unresponsive casualty (briefly)
- Slow pulse
- Pale cold skin
How to manage:
- Kneel down next to the casualty and raise their legs and support the casualty’s ankles on your shoulders. This improves blood flow to the brain.
- Ensure there’s sufficient ventilation by opening windows or asking bystanders to move away.
- Keep watching the casualty’s face for signs of recovery. Once conscious, reassure and help them to sit up slowly.
- If the person takes longer to regain consciousness, open the airway and check their breath.
5. Foreign Object in the Ear, Eye or Nose
While at the workplace, a foreign object can accidentally enter and get stuck in the eyes, nose, ears, throat or skin. Often, it’s not alarming but if swallowed or inhaled they can obstruct proper bowel movement or cause choking.
Here’s how to manage the situation:
Foreign objects in the eyes
Be it sand particles or dust, irrigate with clean water. Also, advise the person to stop rubbing his eyes. If it gets worse send the casualty to the hospital for immediate medical attention.
Foreign objects in the nose
Don’t attempt to remove the foreign bodies out. Advise the casualty to breathe via the mouth while you take note of any breathing difficulty. Then immediately send the injured person to the hospital.
Foreign objects in the ears
Don’t attempt to remove the foreign bodies; it may cause damage to the eardrum or ear canal. If the object is an insect, flood the ear with baby oil to float it out. Then, immediately send the injured person to the hospital.
Swallowed foreign objects
These are either undigested or sharp objects in food such as bones. This causes swelling and obstruction of the airway. Don’t give the person any thing to eat or drink. Reassure the casualty and immediately send him/her to the hospital.
Your primary goal as a first aider is to preserve life. Always assess the situation to help you prepare psychologically, take care of your own safety, the bystanders’ and the casualty. Remember to seek professional help when and as needed.
You never know when your first aid skills might come in handy and give someone a fighting chance.
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