Slips and falls, cuts, chemical spills. Workplaces are prone to accidents and injuries, and employees need to be prepared for unexpected situations. First aid training in the workplace isn’t just critical – it’s a legal requirement across Canada. Observing World First Aid Day on September 9 is a reminder to prioritize employee safety and promote a culture of safety within the workplace.
Established by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), World First Aid Day promotes first aid as a critical component of public health. Every year since 2000, the IFRC and its National Societies reach more than 50 million people with awareness activities.
This year, the theme for World First Aid Day is First Aid in the Digital World. The IFRC is looking to make first aid knowledge accessible to all by providing resources and courses through an updated version of its First Aid App. The organization has been a first aid trainer and provider for more than a century. By 2017, more than 20 million people had been trained worldwide by the IFRC’s National Societies.
First aid is often the first line of defense in emergencies at work, and prompt and appropriate action can significantly increase someone’s chances of survival and recovery. That’s why early intervention and education on how to effectively administer first aid is key.
First aid can help minimize the severity and long-term effects of injuries, preventing complications and disabilities. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, an estimated 35,000 cardiac arrests occur in the country every year, and few people survive. Survival rates double if someone performs CPR and uses an automated external defibrillator (AED). By raising awareness and providing training in first aid measures, such as CPR, employees can become better equipped to support one another, and be empowered to handle emergencies both at work and at home.
Over the years, changes have been made to standard first aid training courses across Canada. For example, opioid poisoning has been added to the Canadian Red Cross and St. John Ambulance curriculum in response to the growing opioid crisis across the country. As of June 1, 2023, employers in Ontario must provide naloxone at work if certain conditions specified in the Occupational Health and Safety Act apply.
Training employees in first aid in your workplace is a legal requirement across Canada, and regulations specify each jurisdiction’s requirements. As an employer, you are responsible for evaluating your workplace environment, hazards, and the number of employees to determine the appropriate level of training and resources required.
First aid training workshops are available, led by certified trainers. You can also partner with local first aid organizations. Training provides employees with essential knowledge and skills, and fosters a safer work environment.
To supplement training, consider organizing informative sessions and distributing education materials about common injuries, emergency contact numbers, and first aid procedures. Mock emergency drills also provide opportunities to practice first aid skills during simulated scenarios, so employees can learn how to respond quickly during real emergencies.
In addition to training, workplaces should have accessible and well-stocked first aid kits that are regularly inspected and replenished. The Red Cross offers a first aid kit calculator to help organizations determine which first aid kits are appropriate for their workplace.
By recognizing World First Aid Day, employers contribute to building a more prepared and resilient workforce capable of handling emergencies with confidence. Prioritizing first aid in the workplace helps create a safer environment, reducing injuries, and potentially saving lives. Contact us so we can work together to create strategies that work best for you and your organization.