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First Aid: How to deal with severe bleeding at work

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First Aid: How to deal with severe bleeding at work

First Aid KitBleeding, or hemorrhaging, is simply blood escaping from the circulatory system, either internally from organs and blood vessels inside the body, or externally from a natural opening such as the ears, nose or through a break in the skin.

Internal bleeding can only be treated by trained professionals, but anyone can administer basic first aid to someone experiencing severe external bleeding through a break in the skin.

Severe blood loss can lead to hypovolemia, which is when the blood volume is suddenly massively reduced and can result in death by exsanguination. On average, a healthy person can lose up to 10 or 15% of their blood volume before hypovolemia sets in, so it is essential that any excessive bleeding is stopped or controlled as soon as possible.

Severe Bleeding at Work

Every workplace should have trained first aiders to provide urgent care for anyone experiencing injury or illness, until a paramedic arrives or the person can see a medical professional. Every workplace presents different hazards and the most likely hazards to cause severe external blood loss include:

Lacerations – wounds caused by an impact on soft tissue, often resulting in a tear of the skin.

Incision – a cut caused to the skin by a sharp object, such as a tool or knife.

Punctures – a puncture to the skin by an object, such as a nail or needle.

Crushing – a crush injury is caused when excessive force is applied to the body, such as when a limb gets trapped in the moving parts of a machine.

As you can see, some workplaces will present more of these types of hazards than others, for example on construction sites or production factories, where there is an abundance of tools and machinery.

First Aid for Severe Bleeding

Anyone can be trained to deliver basic first aid that could be the difference between life and death. In the case of first aid for bleeding, the advice is simple:

1. Apply pressure

Apply pressure to the wound or injury with your hand and a clean dressing or piece of material. Maintain this pressure to stem the flow of blood from the wound.

* remove any obvious dirt or debris from the wound before applying pressure, but do not remove the cause of the bleeding e.g an embedded nail, and do not probe the injury.

* do not apply direct pressure to eye wounds or embedded objects. See below.

2. Raise it

Encourage the patient to lie down, help them if required and raise and support the injured limb above them. If the injury is held above the heart it will reduce blood flow and blood loss. Raise the legs to relieve or avoid the symptoms of shock.

*if the bleeding is from a limb, you could apply a tourniquet, but only if you are trained to do so properly.

3. Call 999

Keep your patient in this position while you, or a colleague, call for emergency assistance.

*if the patient bleeds through the dressing while you wait for assistance, do not remove it; just place another dressing over the top.

Embedded Objects

If the cause of the bleeding is an embedded object, follow these steps to apply pressure without disturbing the object. Removal of the object is likely to cause more severe bleeding.

  1. Build up layers of dressing around the wound without covering the object.
  2. Apply a bandage onto the padding to keep it in place
  3. Firmly apply firm pressure to the padding on each side of the wound
  4. Remember to elevate the injury and raise the legs to avoid/reduce shock.

First Aid Training

Although this is a basic guide to help treat severe blood loss, there is much more to learn to be able to provide immediate medical assistance in any emergency situation. Becoming a qualified first aider for your workplace doesn’t just mean you’ll be able to help your colleagues, you’ll also be able to apply what you learn in any emergency and could help to save the life of a friend, family member or even a stranger in the street.

To find out more more about first aid training for your workplace, simply get in touch with the expert team at Health and Safety Training Ltd. We’ll be able to tailor a course that reflects the hazards of your workplace and ensure that you have the required number of first aiders for business.   

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