Handling a medical emergency in the workplace can be very daunting, but with knowledge and training of how to act efficiently, you can ensure that an injured individual is assisted as well as possible. UK employers have a responsibility to ensure health and safety is maintained in the workplace, and this involves teaching employees how to handle a medical emergency. Designated employees will need to undertake first aid training to develop the skills and confidence to handle medical emergencies. Therefore, training and knowledge of what constitutes a medical emergency will help everyone in the workplace to prepare and act efficiently.
What is a medical emergency?
A medical emergency can be defined as a serious and unforeseen situation which has been caused by a sudden illness or injury, requiring urgent medical attention.
Types of medical emergency include:
- Fall from height
- Heart attack
How to respond to a medical emergency in the workplace
The key to handling medical emergencies in the workplace is to anticipate different types of emergencies before they happen, so that you have a medical procedure in place which you can initiate immediately.
There should be specific employees in the workplace responsible for administering first aid during a medical emergency. These employees should be trained and qualified in first aid to ensure they have the skills to handle medical emergencies, for example how to perform CPR and how to stop continuous bleeding.
There are three parts to a medical emergency procedure:
- CHECK: Check and assess the injuries and symptoms of the individual.
- CALL: Call for professional medical help, which is 999 in the UK.
- CARE: Start applying medical care - for example, if someone appears to be unresponsive and not breathing, you will need to perform CPR before professional medical help arrives.
In January 2017, the Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council was prosecuted by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who are responsible for enforcing health and safety standards across UK organisations. The Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council were fined £33,500.00 after being found guilty for breaching UK healthy and safety laws and putting their employees at serious risk.
The employees were working at serious height without adequate health and safety measures in place to protect them from falling. A member of the public witnessed four individuals working at height on a building with no effective protection. The concerned onlooker contacted the HSE and reported the working conditions, which were not effective enough to protect against medical emergencies.
This lack of compliance breached the UK Work at Height Regulations 2005 and demonstrated a disregard for the health and safety of employees. This demonstrates an employer's failure to prepare for medical emergencies, and fortunately a member of the public reported these hazardous conditions before a medical emergency could occur.
Handling medical emergencies can be very difficult, but training and knowledge of how to act in medical emergencies will ensure everyone in the workplace is prepared for unexpected and serious incidents.