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Workplace first aid during the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19, workplace first aid: people spend more than a third of their lives at work. Customers and other visitors also spend a lot of time at work. As a result, health crises requiring immediate intervention may occur at work.

Obligation to provide first aid

Every worker has a moral obligation to provide effective first aid. Employers must appoint trained first aid personnel to provide first aid, suppress fires, and evacuate workers in compliance with Article 16 (1) of Directive 89/391/EEC.

Resumption of activity following the lockout necessitates a reassessment of workplace first aid.

Although first aid at work is normally well structured throughout Europe, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more challenging, as the virus poses a high danger of infection to both the victim and the responder.

The rescuer and the accident come into close contact during first aid, especially during CPR. The danger of infection is greatest during mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Staff must be appropriately trained and equipped to deal with the challenges of the pandemic, as there may be a lack of equipment protection and skilled operators.

Social distance must be maintained throughout instructional sessions, and the number of participants must be limited. Personal protection equipment must be worn by students (PPE).

Hand sanitizers and sanitizers for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, as well as low-cost dedicated mannequins that can be cleaned before and after usage by each student, should be given.

Sanitization is also required for externally automated defibrillator training devices (AEDs). These issues can be overcome with careful resource management, but it is more difficult to develop appropriate safety protocols meant to reduce the biological danger to the injured and the rescuer.

The risk of word-of-mouth resuscitation and ambiguity regarding effective control may cause some workers to decline CPR or, if infected, to blame their employers for failing to appropriately control the risk.

First aid during Covid-19

The COVID-19 pandemic, on the other hand, has led international and national organizations to revise their standards.

If a victim is suspected of having COVID-19, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that lay rescuers only do chest compressions and defibrillation in adults and complete CPR in children at high risk of respiratory failure.

Both the rescuer and the injured individual should wear a surgical mask or facial covering, according to the AHA. Visor eye protection is not advised.

The effectiveness of masks

Masks must be correctly worn and removed in order to be effective, but the risk of infection can never be eradicated.

Experience with SARS has revealed that for biological diseases where a very small number of particles may be enough to cause infection, all types of masks may be ineffective, and hence some workers may become infected even if they use masks properly.

The greatest way to minimize the spread of infection is to provide clear instructions and rules that are followed. Proper training, increasing hand hygiene, establishing matching tests and verifying mask seals, and safe removal of PPE should be the focus of educational activities.


Finally, because SARS-CoV-2 is a highly transmissible virus and compliance with international and European regulations reduces but does not eliminate the risk of rescuer and accident, preventive measures must reduce this risk to the lowest reasonable achievable level.

First responders must be informed of all potential risks, be aware of the risk of virus transmission, and be given PPE. First responders, on the other hand, must accept the residual risk.