A range of medical emergencies can occur in the workplace, but sometimes the type of workplace you are situated in and the nature of the work can determine the type of emergencies which happen. If you work in a high-risk workplace, such as a construction site, the types of medical emergencies may include falling from height and injuries from tools. However, the types of emergencies which occur in a low-risk workplace, such as an office, might be related to health, such as a stroke. It is important to prepare for all types of medical emergencies in the workplace.
Types of medical emergencies in the workplace
It is an employer's responsibility to maintain health and safety in the workplace. This involves preparing for all types of medical emergencies which could occur, including:
- Heart attack
- Slips and trips
- Falling from height
- Allergic reactions
- Continuous bleeding
What are the most common medical emergencies in the workplace?
Depending on your workplace environment, the types of medical emergencies which occur can differ.
In a high-risk workplace environment, such as a construction site, the types of common medical emergencies can include:
- Falling from height
- Injuries inflicted by tools
- Trips on hazardous surfaces
- Electric shocks
- Burns from handling hazardous chemicals
- Breathing difficulty from inhaling hazardous fumes
The UK government reported in 2017 that the largest number of injuries in the workplace were found in the construction industry. Falls from height accounted for the largest number of injuries within this industry. It is important to remain vigilant when working and to be prepared for the different types of medical emergencies which can occur.
What should you do if a medical emergency occurs in the workplace?
To prepare for medical emergencies and to ensure you know what to do in a range of different emergencies, it is important to organise a medical emergency procedure. The designated first aiders in your workplace will be trained with the correct skills to assist a range of injuries and illnesses. By ensuring that your first aiders have prepared a range of medical emergency procedures, it will ensure that if a medical emergency occurs, they can act straight away.
A medical emergency procedure should have three fundamental aspects:
CHECK: Assess what type of injury or illness the patient has.
CALL: If extra assistance is required, call 999 for an ambulance and further help.
CARE: Perform first aid and the specific treatment to assist the patient until further medical attention arrives.
In July 2017, the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated Skycommsuk Ltd following the report of a medical emergency which occurred in the workplace. Skycommsuk Ltd was prosecuted for breaching the UK Work at Height Regulations 2005 after an employee fell from height whilst working. The employee was installing CCTV cameras at a property in Salford, North West England, when he fell through an unstable roof light. The employee fell through the light, dropping two metres into a warehouse below, causing severe injuries.
The HSE found that Skycommsuk Ltd had failed to provide safe working conditions, which allowed the medical emergency to take place. A fine of £2,600.00 was decided upon and there was a subsequent tarnishing of the organisation's reputation for health and safety standards.
Through preparing for a range of potential medical emergencies your workplace can maintain the safety of those in the environment as far as possible. Therefore, training and knowledge of how to act in medical emergencies is essential.