As always, occupational first aid attendants are at the ready, and now they are using ...
new protocols to protect themselves and their patients from COVID-19.
People in need of first aid at work can expect a few changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. In some cases, and if it’s possible, people will be asked to administer first aid to themselves, under the guidance of an Occupational First Aid Attendant (OFAA).
To find out more, I contacted Jennifer Faber, a certification officer at WorkSafeBC. Jennifer and her Certification Services team at WorkSafeBC developed OFAA protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic: A guide for employers and occupational first aid attendants, published in June 2020. The guide lays out protocols for physical distancing, hand hygiene, and disinfection when providing treatment to patients.
Providing supplies and first aid instructions from 2 metres away
Of course, every situation is different — but let’s say for example, a worker sustains a relatively minor finger cut. The injured person will give the OFAA as much information as possible when they first call for help. Then, when the OFAA arrives, they will stay physically distanced and ask the patient questions such as if there’s anyone at home who is sick or in self-isolation due to COVID-19 (in addition to their usual, in-depth scene assessment).
“If there is a possibility that an individual has been exposed and they are able to perform first aid on themselves, then a first aid attendant should stay 6 feet away and walk them through it,” Jennifer says. “But when it’s not a possibility, the attendants are to go ahead and don the appropriate PPE that protects themselves and their patients: surgical masks, face shields, gloves — and a mask for the patient, as well.”
Jennifer says it’s also important that OFAAs know how to “don and doff” (i.e., put on and take off) PPE to avoid contaminating themselves.
“This will help to mitigate transmission between the patient and attendant,” Jennifer says. “Any time there is a pandemic where you’re concerned about droplets and aerosol transmission, there should be policies and procedures in place.”
OFAAs are also instructed to do “compression-only” CPR during the COVID-19 pandemic. If there is more than one attendant on hand with the required PPE, the attendants can take turns performing compressions. This is because it can be fatiguing for a single attendant to perform continuous compressions at a rate of 100 per minute while wearing full PPE.
For more information, see WorkSafeBC’s First aid requirements and COVID-19 information and resources, which is updated regularly and is based on guidance from public health officials.
Thank you to Jennifer for talking with me — and I’d also like to thank all of our dedicated OFAAs who are doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. #LetsDoOurPartBC
Visit our designated COVID-19 page for more resources like safety handouts, posters and safe work procedures.
Get all the dirt on safe cleaning practices. Make sure you aren’t harmed by the cle ...
aning agents that protect us from COVID-19.
Everyone in the trucking, transportation, warehousing, and shipping industries is working hard to follow the most current requirements and guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19. The BC Trucking Association, for example, has issued best practices for motor carriers that include “increasing regularly scheduled cleaning of operations with a disinfecting agent” and “wiping down all shared spaces with a disinfecting agent.” WorkSafeBC’s COVID best practices for general trucking recommend disinfecting high-touch areas inside and outside the vehicle, such as in-cab communication devices, air lines, landing gear handles, trailer doors, refrigeration/heater unit controls, and dollies.
Unfortunately, the chemicals that can protect us against transmitting the virus can also harm users who do not use them correctly, warns the US Center for Disease Control (USCDC).
“Calls to poison centers regarding exposures to cleaners and disinfectants have increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the USCDC report states. “An Internet panel survey identified gaps in knowledge about safe preparation, use, and storage of cleaners and disinfectants. Approximately one-third of survey respondents engaged in nonrecommended [sic] high-risk practices.”
BC’s Drug & Poison Information Centre has also seen a 60 percent spike in calls for adults exposed to cleaners and disinfectants since March, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) states that those who must use potentially dangerous chemicals to clean and disinfect workspaces can reduce the risks through proper training and by using personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves. SafetyDriven’s safety handout on COVID-19 cleaning and disinfecting recommends wearing nitrile or neoprene gloves while working with disinfectants.
The CCOHS general tips for using disinfectants and cleaning products also include:
- Follow procedures and safe work practices recommended by your employer.
- Check product labels and safety data sheets (SDSs) to know the potential hazards and safe work practices for the cleaning and disinfecting products you use.
- Use cleaning products appropriate to your workplace and according to the supplier's recommendation.
- Do not mix cleaners and disinfectants unless the labels say it is safe to do so. Mixing products (such as chlorine bleach and ammonia cleaners) can cause serious injury.
- Do not eat, drink, or smoke while using bleaches, cleaning agents, disinfecting agents, or other chemical products.
In their tips for using disinfectants and bleach safely, BCCDC adds that you should always open a window when disinfecting and cautions that more concentrated solutions of chemicals are not more effective and may cause irritation to the eyes and throat.
Products should only be used for the manufacturers’ intended purposes. For example, do not use bleach and other disinfectants on food and never eat or drink any cleaning product.
With many people turning to alcohol-based disinfectants (including most hand sanitizers), it is important to remember that alcohol is flammable. Do not use it near ignition sources such as running motors and never smoke while using an alcohol-based product.
Visit SafetyDriven.ca for free online resources for drivers and businesses, including: COVID-19 resources and quick links for trucking and moving & storage, Personal Protective Equipment, How to Keep Truck Cabs Clean in the Fight Against Covid-19, Enhanced Surface Cleaning and Disinfecting