Tuesday, November 6, 2012

First Aid Program Fundamentals Part 2: The Risks

Risks: Injuries, Illnesses and Fatalities

There were 5,703 work-related fatalities in private industry in 2004. In that same year there were 4.3 million total workplace injuries and illnesses, of which 1.3 million resulted in days away from work.

Occupational illnesses, injuries and fatalities in 2004 cost the United States’ economy $142.2 billion, according to National Safety Council estimates. The average cost per occupational fatality in 2004 exceeded one million dollars. To cover the costs to employers from workplace injuries, it has been calculated that each and every employee in this country would have had to generate $1,010 in revenue in 2004.2

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) may occur at work. According to recent statistics from the American Heart Association, there are 250,000 out-of-hospital SCAs annually. The actual number of SCAs that happen at work are unknown. If an employee collapses without warning and is not attended to promptly and  effectively, the employee may die. Sudden cardiac arrest is caused by abnormal, uncoordinated beating of the heart or loss of the heartbeat altogether, usually as a result of a heart attack. Workplace events such as electrocution or exposure to low oxygen environments can lead to SCA. Overexertion at work can also trigger SCA in those with underlying heart disease. The outcome of occupational illnesses and injuries depends on the severity of the injury, available first-aid care and medical treatment. Prompt, properly administered first aid may mean the difference between rapid or prolonged recovery, temporary or permanent disability, and even life or death.

Assess the Risks and Design a First-Aid Program Specific for Worksite

 Obtaining and evaluating information about the injuries, illnesses and fatalities at a worksite are essential first steps in planning a first-aid program. Employers can use the OSHA 300 log, OSHA 301 forms, their Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier reports or other records to help identify the first-aid needs for their businesses. For risk assessment purposes, national data for injuries, illnesses and fatalities may be obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website at www.bls.gov/iif. The annual data, beginning in 2003, are grouped by the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) that assigns a numeric
code for each type of work establishment. Prior to 2003, the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system was used to categorize the data instead of NAICS.

 Employers should make an effort to obtain estimates of EMS response times for all permanent and temporary locations and for all times of the day and night at which they have workers on duty, and they should use that information when planning their first-aid program. When developing a workplace first-aid program, consultation with the local fire and rescue service or emergency medical professionals may be helpful for response time information and other program issues. Because it can be a workplace event, SCA should be considered by employers when planning a first-aid program.

It is advisable to put the First-Aid Program policies and procedures in writing. Policies and procedures should be communicated to all employees, including those workers who may not read or speak English. Language barriers should be addressed both in instructing employees on first-aid policies and procedures
and when designating individuals who will receive first-aid training and become the on-site first-aid providers.

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