First aid FAQs
Who is responsible for providing first aid attendants and equipment?
The employer is responsible for supplying first aid equipment, supplies, facilities and services. See Section 3.15 of the regulation for more information.
Can we keep nonprescription drugs on site?
Yes, you can keep nonprescription drugs on site as long as they remain under the control of the attendant and are used in accordance with the instructions of the manufacturer, a physician, or a qualified practitioner. See page 38 of the OHS Guidelines for Occupational First Aid (PDF 205kb) for further information.
For unplanned absences, an absence of up to approximately half a shift is permissible until a replacement attendant is in place. For example, during an 8-hour shift, the employer has 4 hours to obtain another attendant's services. For planned absences, the attendant's shift should be covered by another attendant. See page 16 of the OHS Guidelines for Occupational First Aid (PDF 205kb) for further information.
The guidelines recommend that a worker be provided with a personal first aid kit as described in the tables beginning on page 24 of the OHS Guidelines for Occupational First Aid (PDF 205kb).
How long is the certification training for Level 1, Transportation Endorsement, Level 2, and Level 3?
- Level 1 is a one-day course [Course outline: PDF (46kb)]
- Transportation Endorsement is a one-day course > [Course outline: PDF (52kb)]
- Level 2 is a 36-hour course [Course outline: PDF (26kb)]
- Level 3 is a 70-hour course [Course outline: PDF (37kb)]
Certification is valid for 3 years. See WorkSafeBC Standard OFA1: Certification of Occupational First Aid Attendants (PDF 55kb) for more information.
Is there a minimum age for a first aid attendant?
A person must be least 16 years old to qualify for a Level 1, 2, or 3 certificate and in a workplace that requires a Level 2 or 3 attendant, the person must be at least 19 years old. If the attendant is under 19 years old and holds a Level 2 or 3 ticket, he or she may provide treatment under the direct supervision of the unrestricted first aid attendant on site. See WorkSafeBC Standard OFA1: Certification of Occupational First Aid Attendants (PDF 55kb) for more information.
I have an EMA FR Licence. Is it equivalent to WorkSafeBC certification?
Upon request, the Fire Chiefs Association of B.C. or an approved first aid training agency can issue a restricted Level 1 or 2 certificate to a member of the fire service who holds an EMA FR license. The certificates are restricted to the fire service industry.
- EMA FR Level II Licence = Board Level 1 certificate
- EMA FR III Licence = Board Level 2 certificate
For further information, contact a Certification Clerk in the Certification Section of WorkSafeBC at 604 276-3090 in the Lower Mainland or toll-free within BC 1 888 621-7233.
I have a standard-level ticket from a first aid training agency. Will it be accepted in B.C. workplaces?
You can view all the first aid certificates acceptable in workplaces in British Columbia online. For further information, contact a Certification Clerk in the Certification Section of WorkSafeBC at (604) 276-3090 in the Lower Mainland or toll-free within BC 1 888 621-7233.
I am a Registered Nurse. Do I still need to take a first aid course?
Upon request, a First Aid training agency can issue a Level 2 certificate to a Registered Nurse or Physician who has at least 6 months' experience in the emergency department or has completed a recognized course of training for emergency procedures. Either of these conditions must have been met in the last 24 months. The certification is only valid at health care facilities. For further, information see WorkSafeBC Standard OFA1: Certification of Occupational First Aid Attendants (PDF 55 KB), or contact a Certification Clerk in the Certification Section of WorkSafeBC (604) 276-3090 in the Lower Mainland or toll-free within BC 1 888 621-7233.
Forms and records
A record of all injuries and manifestations of disease reported or treated must be maintained by the employer. See Section 3.19 of the regulation for detailed information.
Supplies, equipment and facilities
You can purchase a kit from a safety supply store. You can also make your own kit following the recommendations beginning on page 31 of the OHS Guidelines for Occupational First Aid (PDF 205kb).
First aid procedures must be posted or otherwise communicated as required under section 3.17(2) of the regulation.
What equipment do I need in the first aid room or dressing station?
A recommended list of first aid equipment for first aid rooms or dressing stations begins on page 34 of the OHS Guidelines for Occupational First Aid (PDF 205kb).
Transportation of injured workers
Who pays for transportation of injured workers?
The employer is responsible for the immediate conveyance and transportation of injured workers to the nearest hospital or initial medical treatment. For further information, see section 3.16(1)(b) of the regulation and section 21(3) of the Workers Compensation Act
Can the first aid attendant accompany an injured worker to medical treatment?
An attendant may accompany an injured worker if the attendant considers it to be necessary. See WorkSafeBC Standard OFA1: Certification of Occupational First Aid Attendants (PDF 55 KB) for more information.
What is the difference between a 'prescriptive' and 'performance-based' first aid regulation?
A prescriptive first aid regulation specifies an exact method of compliance that workplace parties are required to meet. For example, a prescriptive first aid regulation would identify the exact number of bandages that must be kept in a first aid kit.
In comparison, a performance-based occupational health and safety ("OHS") regulation sets an exact standard for first aid outcomes that workplace parties must meet. "Employers must provide for prompt delivery of workplace first aid" is an example of a performance-based regulation.
What is the primary benefit of a performance-based first aid regulation?
A performance-based first aid regulation provides a balance between establishing strict standards for controlling risk while allowing workplace parties to determine appropriate measures for achieving compliance and meeting the
How does a performance-based first aid regulation affect employers?
A performance-based regulation provides employers with greater flexibility in customizing their first aid service to the unique requirements of an individual workplace. However, with this flexibility comes the added responsibility of conducting a diligent assessment of first aid service requirements, and providing a level of service consistent with this assessment.
What is the difference between an assessment as required under section 3.16 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and a risk assessment?
An employer, under section 3.16 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation ("OHSR"), must conduct a first aid assessment "of the circumstances of the workplace." The purpose of this assessment is to determine the level of first aid service required at a specific workplace. Some of the issues that must be considered include:
- The number of workers who may require first aid;
- The nature and extent of the risks and hazards in the workplace;
- The time that may be required to obtain emergency transportation.
A risk assessment is a complete analysis of work processes and job functions. Its purpose is to mitigate or eliminate workplace hazards. A risk assessment considers the effectiveness of administrative or engineered controls that may be in place, and the frequency of exposure to hazards that cannot be controlled. It should be noted that an employer may be required to conduct a risk assessment per section 3.16(2)(b) of the OSHR.
What is the difference between a regulation and a guideline?
A regulation is a legal requirement that must be met by all workplaces under the jurisdiction of WorkSafeBC. A guideline is intended to assist with providing ways of complying with the legislation, not to provide an exclusive interpretation. Many sections of the Workers Compensation Act and the OHSR have associated guidelines. See the OHS Guidelines for Occupational First Aid:
Can an employer default to the hazard rating assigned to their business?
An employer can usually default to the Assigned Hazard Rating List in the OHS Guidelines. However, an employer-conducted first aid assessment may indicate that their work processes do not fit within a specific hazard rating category. It is important to note that an employer is responsible for identifying and assigning the correct hazard rating to their business.
An employer may need to adjust their hazard rating if work processes and conditions, tools, equipment or the potential for injury are significantly different from the norms found within their industry classification. The OHS Guidelines contain information on how to calculate a hazard rating.
The ratings are based upon work processes and conditions, tools, equipment, and the potential for injury within a given industry.
Section 3.16(2)(b) of the OHSR requires that a determination be made of "the nature and extent of risks and hazards in the workplace, including whether or not a workplace, as a whole, creates a low risk of injury." The OHS Guidelines helps translate this determination into a suitable level of first aid service. The hazard ratings of low, moderate, and high hazard ratings allow an employer greater flexibility in providing a first aid service that supports the requirements of a specific workplace.
How often must an employer conduct a first aid assessment?
Each employer must conduct an annual first aid assessment. A further assessment may be required if there is a significant change in the employer's work processes or procedures.
How does WorkSafeBC enforce the regulation?
WorkSafeBC prevention officers inspect workplaces to ensure compliance with the Workers Compensation Act and OHSR. During a workplace inspection, an officer will review the level of first aid service provided, and determine if it meets the standard recommended in the OHS Guidelines and the requirements of the OHSR.
The officer will discuss the results of this review with the employer and the joint occupational health and safety committee / worker representative.
If the level of first aid service provided by employers does not meet the standard of the OHS Guidelines, or the requirements of the OHSR, the officer will offer consultative advice to employers regarding implementation of the new first aid amendments. If employers believe that a reduced level of first aid service is sufficient for circumstances of their workplace, they will be required to submit a written assessment detailing their rationale to WorkSafeBC.
Officers will ensure compliance with the first aid regulation by conducting follow-up site visits. Orders will be written on employers found to be in willful non-compliance of the first aid requirements - i.e. no first aid attendant, no equipment, no written procedures, etc.
What happens if an employer's conclusion about the required level of first aid service differs from the conclusion reached by a WorkSafeBC prevention officer?
A prevention officer may make a decision to write an order, based on whether the conclusion reached by the employer is reasonable. When making a determination about an employer's "reasonable conclusion," a prevention officer considers if:
- each part of the assessment was conducted diligently;
- there are significant deviations from the levels of service suggested in the OHS Guideline;
- the level of service recommended in the assessment will respond appropriately to the types of injuries likely to occur.
What is meant by a 'reasonable conclusion'?
A reasonable conclusion means that the level of first aid service provided approximates the levels identified in the OHS Guidelines. If an employer's "reasonable conclusion" differs from the levels suggested in the OHS Guidelines, the employer will be expected to provide a rationale to WorkSafeBC.
How does a WorkSafeBC prevention officer determine if an employer is providing an appropriate level of first aid service?
The OHS Guidelines contain descriptions of benchmark levels of appropriate first aid service. A prevention officer determines compliance with the first aid regulation by assessing if an employer has conducted a thorough workplace assessment. Based on this assessment, an employer must be able to provide injured workers with prompt first aid service and transportation to medical aid.
Can an employer appeal a decision made by a WorkSafeBC prevention officer?
Yes. An employer may, within 90 days of receiving an order, request a review by the WorkSafeBC Review Division.