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What employers should do to safeguard first responders

Due to their potential close contact with patients, first responders are probably more susceptible to developing COVID-19. The COVID-19 risk assessment should take first aid provision into account.

Following the hierarchy of control, protective measures for the first responder should be taken, utilizing techniques including physical separation, physical barriers, alternate working methods, and, as a last resort, the use of personal protection equipment (PPE).

Employers and their first responders should be aware of the specific recommendations for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

What occurs if there are no first responders on duty?

Even if the lockdown is over and people are going back to work, attendance in offices and on the premises is probably going to be low for some time. Employers must decide how to sustain first aid services during these times of low attendance. Even if the supplies are only minimal, first aid arrangements must be kept up at all times.

Since it is likely that the first aid needs will change during the return to work phase, employers will need to review both their first aid needs assessment and the COVID risk assessment.

The needs analysis will determine the appropriate first aid provision, including whether the workplace risk justifies having a full-time first aider on site. First responders’ opinions should be sought by employers during this process.

Appointing a professional

Employers are required to at least appoint someone to oversee first aid plans where the needs assessment shows that a first aider is not necessary. A “designated person” is the name for this individual.

Every time someone is at work, a designated person should be present. The chosen person’s duties are straightforward and include maintaining the first aid supplies and facilities and contacting the emergency services as needed. First aid certification is not required for appointed individuals.


The regulations offer flexibility for situations where first aiders are not present due to “temporary and extraordinary” conditions, even if full first aiders are determined to be necessary by the needs assessment. In those circumstances, the employer will still require the presence of a designated individual.