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First aid and emergency services are delivering the primary care to a patient before emergency services are available to him/her. In the workplace setting, the law requires employers to implement the training program and also to comply with a set of safety and health standards set by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Depending on working environments that can be of high hazard or low hazard level, employees may get ill or get injured in the course of their work. Consequently, it is essential to have a program that guarantees the employees protection and adequate first aid procedures. Though the best thing is to prevent accidents in the workplace, some accidents are unavoidable. Consequently, employers should equip their workers with tools and information needed to care for an injured person. Chemical hazards are some of the risk factors affecting employees in some workplaces and which require quick action to limit the damage. The purpose of the training is to help workers identify hazards, discuss the appropriate first aid procedures, and identify the theories of accident causation.
Accidents and Their Effects
Workplace injuries are a common occurrence in many companies despite the rigorous measures adopted to maintain workers’ safety. In 2016, there were approximately 2.9 million non-fatal accidents reported by private employees. In 2015, the number of fatal incidences reported in workplace environments was 4,836 accidents, which marked a slight increase compared to 4,821 in 2014 (US Bureau of Statistics, 2016). The number published in 2014 was the highest observed since 2008 (US Bureau of Statistics, 2016). The injuries vary in different occupations: some have a high hazard level, while others have a low hazard level. Similarly, they differ on age groups with those above 65 recording significantly higher numbers.
Chemical accidents are frequent but at times avoidable. There are various reasons for chemical accidents with carelessness accounting for 54% of all chemical accidents reported. Also, solidified chemicals are responsible for 83% of incidences, while liquid chemicals cause around 16% and gases – 1% of these accidents (Sivaprakash, Karthikeyan and Joseph, 2013). Flammable substances cause accidents through fires and explosives, while solidified chemical accidents are caused by contact and injections. Accidents in workplace environments lead to losses in different ways. One of these entails absenteeism from work as it costs companies much money due to the reduced productivity level. Additionally, some accidents lead to deaths and disabilities, lowering incomes in families. Moreover, when accidents occur, companies spend huge sums of money to help the affected workers. In 2016, 892,270 accidents and illnesses resulted in absenteeism from work (US Bureau of Statistics, 2017). In that year, the average number of missed working days was eight days (US Bureau of Statistics, 2017). In such situations, the companies incur more in training personnel who step in for the absent workers. Additionally, workplace fatalities increase stress and anxiety in workers, thus further reducing productivity level.
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Hazard Analysis/Prevention and Safety Management
Working with chemicals exposes individuals to everyday risks. The primary causes of accidents are associated with chemicals through dispersion, fire, and explosions. Organic compounds are flammable. Employees must keep in mind that a small mistake could result in serious fire accidents. Other substances such as acids are corrosive. A contact or ingestion such contents is harmful to the workers and can lead to injuries or/and poisoning, which, if not managed on time, can lead to loss of lives (Sivaprakash, Karthikeyan and Joseph, 2013). Preventing the occurrence of accidents is paramount to the employees’ wellbeing. Preventing fire accidents involves electric proofing, as well as avoiding friction and sparks near flammable materials. Workers must also refrain from lighting a fire near the combustible materials. When it comes to corrosive substances, proper labeling is necessary to prevent the injection of harmful products. Apart form this, employees must ensure that they wear appropriate gear which includes gloves to avoid contact and also to follow the established chemical handling procedure.
Although people adopt and follow correct procedures, sometimes accidents still occur. In such instances, one must apply right methods to prevent further damage. In case corrosive acid pours, neutralizers must be used with the acid to neutralize it (Sivaprakash, Karthikeyan and Joseph, 2013). If the acid spills on an individual, one must follow the established procedure including washing under running water or using a neutralizer where appropriate. In case of ingestion, vomiting can be quite helpful in removing the toxic substances from the organism. Anyway, in such circumstances, one should seek help immediately. If flammable material or gas leaks, the area should be secure, electricity disconnected, and people prevented from accessing the area until the leak gets fixed. Additionally, as emphasized by the Tariff Advisory Committee, firefighting equipment and alarms must be available in workplace settings and especially those having contact with flammable products. In case of fire resulting from chemicals, it suggests administering the first procedures for burns starting with assessing the extent of the injury.
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The OSH Act, Standards, and Liability
The OSHA act defines the required safety standards and the liabilities of an employer to the employees. The act affects industrial sites and is legally obligatory. According to it, the employer must ensure that context is reasonably safe for the employees (Ministry of The Attorney General and Legal Affairs, 2015). Companies should also provide frequent maintenance services to enhance their workers’ safety. Moreover, employers must enforce safety procedures for handling, storage, and transportation of materials. In the workplace setting, the employers must also provide protective gear for the workers and provide information and training on how to safely handle dangerous materials. Moreover, the act requires that the employers maintain safe working environments and ensure that all hazardous materials have proper labels and that the worksheets with expiry dates for such material exist. The act also expects that the workers conduct themselves appropriately by following the established standards and cooperate with their employers in ensuring safety. Thus, a worker who does not abide by the company’s safety procedures is an offender punishable by law (Ministry of The Attorney General and Legal Affairs, 2015). Also, workers who willingly cause injury or death of someone else at work are legally responsible for that, according to the OSHA act. An employer shall, therefore, be responsible in case of damage that arises from their failure to comply with the established standards.
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Theories of Accident Causation
Understanding calamities involves knowing the reason and the process in which they happen. In an attempt to understand these incidences, various models of accident causation have been developed. These theories can be divided into three broad classes based on their assumptions of how accidents occur. Simple linear models are based on the assumption that accidents are a result of a combination of circumstances. The theories of this class are Germain’s loss causation model and the domino theory created by Bird and Loftus (Toft, 2012). According to this model, the prevention of accidents is possible through the elimination of the consequences in the linear sequence.
Complex linear models, on the other hand, assume that accidents result from an interaction is unsafe conditions and a hazard in a direct sequence. According to this theory, people are closest to the end and therefore suffer when the incidences occur (Toft, 2012). The arguments included here are as follows: time sequence paradigms, energy-damage approach, systemic models, and epidemiological approaches (Toft, 2012). Unlike the simple linear model that advocated for eliminating the causal factors, this model supports the idea of strengthening the defense.
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The last theory is a complex non-linear model that sees accidents as a result of an interaction of various mutually interacting variables. This interaction is complicated and does not necessarily occur in a linear sequence (Toft, 2012). The approach holds that preventing accidents comes from understanding the interaction of these multiple factors. Complex non-linear theories include systems-theoretic accident approach and process, functional resonance accident theory, and complexity and accident modeling (Toft, 2012). Following these models helps to prevent the accidents by eliminating their causes.
First aid training in the workplace is vital as accidents and illnesses occur frequently. The occurrences can be fatal or nonfatal and negatively affect both employers and employees. The employers incur extra costs in the form of compensation and reduced productivity. The workers suffer physically from the accidents that also create extra tension and anxiety. Chemical accidents are frequent in industries that use chemical substances. However, employers must focus on preventing such accidents and safe handling procedures. The OSHA act defines standards the employers must meet and stipulate the code of conduct for both the employer and the employee. Moreover, it states the liabilities of both parties. Preventing accidents involves understanding their causes described in the accident causation theories. These theories include a classification based on how they represent accidence occurrences. The models attempt to explain the origin and prevention of the accidents.
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