One moment you are having a casual chat with a co-worker over lunch. Suddenly, she grasps her throat and begins to turn blue. What do you do?
Accidents on the job can be scary. They strike without notice and can happen to anyone. Worse, attempting to provide assistance to the victim without the proper training may make the situation worse.
That's why it is so important you—as a farm owner, office manager or safety director—have a thorough understanding of first aid and are prepared to teach others the value of first-aid training in your farm-safety training program.
Here are some key first-aid practices to get you started:
1. Keep and maintain standard first-aid kits.
Not only is having a first-aid kit on-site a good idea for accident preparedness, it's an OSHA requirement. Place first-aid kits in heavily-trafficked areas and across work sites for larger farmstead operations.
Stock first-aid kits for a wide variety of situations. Contents should include:
- Gauze pads
- Band-Aids and other bandages
- Adhesive tape
- Latex gloves
. . . just to name a few.
When purchasing kits for your farm, look for OSHA-certification labels to ensure they contain all the necessary materials. And, if you run out of any supplies, immediately replenish them to ensure your kit is always ready for an emergency response. Ask a safety team member to check monthly the contents of all kits on your site.
2. Call for help first.
Though you should be trained on first aid, it is not expected that you provide aid beyond your training and abilities. Trying to administer aid in an unfamiliar situation or where you don't know protocol may do more harm than good.
Should you find yourself facing a work-site accident, always seek immediate professional medical help first by calling, or having someone else call, 911. From there, operators will send emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to assist. Operators are also often trained to give you instructions on administering aid should you need it.
Then, you can proceed to help the victim, knowing you have medical backup on the way.
3. Keep calm and carry on.
When a scary situation occurs, it's critical you keep a cool head. Panicking can perpetuate the danger, cause more accidents and result in increased harm to the victim.
So, remain calm, call for help and continually assess the situation, being keenly aware of any additional and immediate dangers or potential threats to both you and the victim.
For instance, if a person is lying unconscious on the floor, before attempting to administer any aid, quickly look for noticeable culprits, such as toxic fumes, electrical or fire hazards or other dangerous conditions that may have hurt them. Those same hazards could quickly turn on you.
Remember, you are no good to a victim if you become one.
4. Learn CPR.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, isn't just a skill reserved for lifeguards. It's actually one of the most useful, lifesaving techniques in your first-aid tool belt.
Not just for waterlogged lungs, CPR can help revive victims of choking, heart failure, electric shock, loss of breath—you name it. It's also easy enough for any bystander to administer. The American Red Cross has a great hands-only CPR video that lays out the basics in minutes.
Because CPR methods and instructions change over time, certification—and remaining certified—is recommended.
Whether you are new to the job or have years of experience, being familiar with first aid is a critical step to protecting your health and that of others. For this reason, it should always be a cornerstone to farm-safety training.
For full OSHA guidelines concerning first aid, as well as first-aid techniques for a variety of farm accidents and situations, check out our farm-safety training classes!