Roles and Responsiblities of First Aid Attendants in BC

The Goals of an Occupational First Aid Attendant in British Columbia

Occupational First Aid Attendants, often referred to as OFA attendants, serve a crucial role in ensuring workplace safety and responding effectively to emergencies. In this article, we will delve into their responsibilities and the significance of their contributions.

Saving Lives and Easing Suffering

OFA attendants, such as OFA Level 1 first aid attendants, possess a unique skill set that allows them to alleviate suffering and, when necessary, save lives at accident scenes. Their expertise in emergency care can make a substantial difference in the outcome of workplace incidents. Furthermore, their efficient injury management can shorten the recovery time for injured workers, facilitating their return to normal activities sooner.

Ability to respond to Different first aid scenarios

These professionals are comprehensively trained in various aspects of emergency care. From handling minor injuries to managing severe trauma cases involving airway, breathing, and circulatory emergencies, OFA attendants are well-equipped to address a wide range of medical situations.

Decision-Making and Referrals

One of the key responsibilities of First Aid attendants is making crucial decisions about when to refer injured workers for further medical attention. They play a pivotal role in assessing injuries and determining whether a physician’s intervention is necessary. In many cases, they can provide adequate care for minor injuries without the need for immediate referral.

In remote or isolated work environments, where weather conditions or transportation restrictions may pose challenges, OFA attendants may find themselves responsible for providing extended care, sometimes even overnight. This underscores the importance of a comprehensive workplace first aid course that equips them with the necessary skills and knowledge.

Teamwork in Workplace Safety

It is imperative to recognize that OFA attendants are not substitutes for physicians, and their limitations should be understood by both employers and employees. To create a safer work environment, active workplace joint occupational health and safety committees are essential. These committees assess work processes, establish safe practices, and ultimately contribute to reducing accidents.

First Aid Legislation and the Role of OFA Attendants

First Aid is a vital part of the workplace on any jobsite.

Unlike in a public setting, Occupational First Aid Attendants have an obligation to provide first aid in the workplace as per the WorksafeBC Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.

Understanding the legal framework and the specific responsibilities of OFA attendants is crucial for effective workplace safety management.

Legal Mandate

Occupational health and safety legislation across various jurisdictions mandate that employers provide trained first aid attendants and appropriate supplies tailored to the workplace’s specific circumstances. In British Columbia, for example, these requirements are outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, Part 3.

First Aid Attendant Responsibilities

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, section 3.21, first aid attendants in British Columbia have the following responsibilities:

  1. The first aid attendant must:
    • promptly provide injured workers with a level of care within the scope of the attendant’s training and this Part,
    • objectively record observed or reported signs and symptoms of injuries and exposures to contaminants covered by this Regulation, and
    • refer for medical treatment workers with injuries considered by the first aid attendant as being serious or beyond the scope of the attendant’s training.
  2. A first aid attendant must be physically and mentally capable of safely and effectively performing the required duties, and theBoard may at any time require the attendant to provide a medical certificate.
  3. The first aid attendant is responsible, and has full authority, for all first aid treatment of an injured worker until responsibility for treatment is accepted
    • at a place of medical treatment,
    • by an ambulance service acceptable to the Board , or
    • by a person with higher or equivalent first aid certification.
  4. The first aid attendant does not have authority to overrule a worker’s decision to seek medical treatment or the worker’s choice of medical treatment.

In addition to the above responsibilities, first aid attendants must be familiar with all aspects of the workplace including: 

  • Specific location names (including jargon) for all areas of the worksite
  • Location of first aid room, rescue vehicles, and first aid equipment
  • Entry and exit to and from all areas of the worksite
  • Provision for emergency procedures under the listed Regulationnumbers
  • Determining the approximate number of workers usually expected to be in each general area of the worksite
  • Identifying supervisors in each area (how each can be reached)
  • Method of summoning First Aid Attendant
  • Location and method of summoning other first aid personnel
  • Location and method of summoning workers with specialized training (welders, heavy equipment operators, millwrights,company fire crew, etc.)

The attendant must also know where to access information on specific hazards.

Employer First Aid Responsibilities

The employer must keep, and conspicuously post, up-to-date written procedures for providing first aid at the worksite including:

  • The equipment, supplies, facilities, First Aid Attendants, and services available
  • The location of, and how to call for, first aid
  • How the First Aid Attendant is to respond to a call for first aid
  • The authority of the First Aid Attendant over the treatment of injured workers and the responsibility of the employer to report injuries to WorkSafeBC
  • Who is to call for transportation for the injured worker, and the method of transportation and communication
  • Prearranged routes in and out of the workplace and to medical treatment
  • Use of an AED (if available) and other specialized equipment

Authority of OFA Attendants

OFA attendants have complete authority when it comes to managing first aid for injured workers. Their decisions regarding first aid procedures and the need for additional medical attention should not be overruled by supervisory personnel.

Transportation and Responsibility

When an first aid attendant deems it necessary for a worker to be transported to a hospital, they must ensure that the injured individual is taken to the nearest hospital or treatment center. In cases where the attendant believes it’s essential to accompany the injured worker (e.g., due to the patient’s condition or the need for ongoing care), they should do so. The attendant maintains responsibility for the patient until they are handed over to qualified pre-hospital emergency medical personnel or hospital staff.

Protection from Liability

Worker’s Compensation Acts often shield OFA attendants from liability for inadvertent injuries resulting from actions taken during their employment duties. However, it’s essential to note that a breach of terms or conditions of their certificates may lead to investigations and potential consequences.

Consent

Before providing treatment, first aid attendants must obtain consent from conscious, mentally competent adults. Consent can be either actual, where the patient makes an informed decision, or implied, in situations where the patient is unable to respond, and the law assumes they would consent in an emergency.

First Aid Equipment

Workplaces, including vehicles used for worker transportation, must be equipped with the necessary first aid materials, as mandated by regulations. First aid kits should be readily accessible and designed to keep items clean and dry. Some workplaces may require a designated first aid room or dressing station, which should be conveniently located, well-lit, ventilated, heated, and equipped with the essential amenities.

Qualities of an Effective Occupational First Aid Attendant

To excel in their roles, OFA attendants should possess specific qualities and characteristics:

Skills: Proficiency in first aid techniques and procedures.

Personality: A pleasant, calm demeanor and a compassionate attitude, particularly in high-stress situations.

Decision-Making: The ability to make critical decisions swiftly and effectively.

Interest: A genuine care for people and their well-being, along with a commitment to providing the best possible care.

Suitability: Recognition of their own limitations and a temperament suited to handling emergencies and injuries. It’s essential to acknowledge that not everyone is temperamentally suited to work as an OFA attendant.

In conclusion, Occupational First Aid attendants play an indispensable role in safeguarding the well-being of workers in various industries. Their training, skills, and dedication to providing prompt and effective first aid can make a significant difference in emergency situations, contributing to safer workplaces and faster recovery for injured individuals.

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