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Health and safety in the laboratory and field
Health and safety in the laboratory and field

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4.2 Why do I need to know about first aid?

It takes only 3 to 4 minutes for a blocked airway to kill someone, but it can take more than 8 minutes for an ambulance to arrive on the scene. A simple procedure like opening an airway can save someone's life while you are waiting for professional help to arrive.

If you are working with harmful substances (chemicals, biological agents and dusts) you must know the first aid treatment if you are exposed. Do not expect a nurse or a doctor to know everything about every harmful substance. This will be part of the risk assessment process that is carried out. If you need to seek medical assistance, take a copy of the risk assessment with you. For further information see Croner's Substances Hazardous to Health Emergency First Aid Guide.

Figure 3
Figure 3 The contents of a first aid kit

For small spills or exposure you must carry out a degree of self-treatment. For example, if you spill two drops hydrochloric acid on your hand you would go to the sink and wash your hand with running water for 5 minutes.

For more serious accidents contact your local first aider or appointed person.