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  Table of Contents 
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-2

First-aid at workplace -past, current and future

Associate Editor, IJOEM, General Manager -Health Management, Siemens Ltd., Dept. KW/MOH Kalwa Works, Thane-Belapur Road, Thane, India

Date of Web Publication13-Aug-2012

Correspondence Address:
Xivananda Priolcar
Siemens Ltd., Dept. KW/MOH Kalwa Works, Thane-Belapur Road, Thane - 400 601
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5278.99678

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How to cite this article:
Priolcar X. First-aid at workplace -past, current and future. Indian J Occup Environ Med 2012;16:1-2

How to cite this URL:
Priolcar X. First-aid at workplace -past, current and future. Indian J Occup Environ Med [serial online] 2012 [cited 2022 May 28];16:1-2. Available from:

Little information is known about first-aid during pre-historic era. The instances of recorded first aid were provided by religious knights. In 1099, religious knights trained in medical care organized the Order of St. John to specifically treat battlefield injuries. However, it was only in the mid-19 th century that the First International Geneva Convention was held and the Red Cross was created to provide "aid to sick and wounded soldiers in the field." Soldiers were trained to treat their fellow soldiers before the medics arrived. A decade later, an army surgeon proposed the idea of training civilians in what he termed, "pre-medical treatment." Many developments in first aid and many other medical techniques have been driven by wars, such as in the case of the American Civil War, which prompted Clara Barton to organize the American Red Cross. St. John Ambulance was formed in 1877 to teach first aid, and numerous other organizations joined them. The term "first aid" first appeared in 1878 as a combination of "first treatment" and "National Aid." In Britain, civilian ambulance crews were trained specifically for the railways, mines, and the police.

The practical skills of first aid have continued to evolve and there has been somewhat a separation between first aid and emergency medicine. New techniques and equipment have helped make today's first aid simple and effective.

In India, the employers are required to provide one first-aid box for every 150 workers. Each first-aid box has to be kept in charge of a responsible person who holds a certificate in first-aid treatment recognized by the State Govt. and who should be available during the working hours of the workplace. Usually the only first-aid certificate which is accepted is that which is issued by the St. John's Ambulance. The basic certification training curriculum involves 3 to 8 days while the recertification usually involves one day training. Given that, it is a legal requirement to provide first-aid at the workplace, the biggest customer for the first-aid services are all the organizations employing people. One of the important components of the first-aid is cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) which has undergone significant changes over the years due to increasing research evidence on survival. Some years ago the recommendation was 15:2 (chest compression: breaths) which got changed to 30:2 (chest compressions: breaths) while the latest guidance recommends 100 chest compressions per minute by lay persons while the chest compressions and breaths is limited to be provided only by the trained first-aiders. Besides the ABC- Airway, Breathing, Chest compression scheme is now changed to CAB- chest compressions, airway, breathing. This brings greater focus in involving lay persons in the delivery of first-aid.

Though, the legal requirement for trained first-aiders at workplace is one per one hundred and fifty workers, it would be prudent to train one in every 10 workers in first-aid treatment, in-order to ensure availability of the first-aiders in all the work-shifts allowing for absence from work by the trained persons due to any reason.

Some of the industries run their own internal first-aid training given the fact that many of the certified training providers do not have adequate training equipment. For example: there is need for mannequins for practising CPR since it is impossible to perform correct CPR technique on a live person. However, many of these training providers use the participants to act as mannequins! Interestingly, none of the Medical Colleges offer any first-aid training courses. This brings into focus the need for adequate accredited first-aid training facilities in terms of resources and equipment. Besides, these trainings should be designed considering the need of the industry and to be imparted in shortest possible time. The training, preferably, should be of one day duration. It should include the theory as well as hands-on with more focus on practical aspects of addressing common medical conditions at the workplace considering the site demographics and hazards at the workplace. If the industries themselves are running their own first-aid training which meets the criteria, it should be duly recognized as acceptable since it would be meeting the objectives of legal requirements as well as the workplace need. There is also a need for multi-level first-aid certifying agencies ensuring multi-level development of the first-aiders.

There is also a need to relook at the legal requirements with respect to the contents of the first-aid box. These requirements are archaic and have not been looked at since they were first drafted when the Indian Factories Act came into existence in 1948. Some of the common medications may be included in the first-aid box to manage common medical conditions. This would help providing immediate relief to the workers.

The role of organizations like IAOH is critical in capacity building by providing advice on deciding the curriculum for such courses, providing resources and well as creating awareness among those in Authority to make appropriate changes in the legislation.

We expect our readers to respond to any changes that they would like to see in the area of First aid at workplace.


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