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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions | Certification and Training | Forms and Records | Performance-Based Requirements | First Aid Assessment | Supplies, Equipment, and Facilities | Transportation of Injured Workers | Other

Performance-Based Requirements

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 standards set.

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 the 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: PDF format (160 KB) or html.

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.

Under what circumstances would an employer need to adjust their hazard rating?
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.

How are the hazard ratings listed in the OHS Guidelines determined?
The ratings are based upon work processes and conditions, tools, equipment, and the potential for injury within a given industry.

Why does the OHSR only refer to "low risk" or "not low risk" workplaces, while the OHS Guidelines refer to hazard ratings of low, moderate, and high?
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, moderate or high 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 the 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 45 days of receiving an order, request a review by the WorkSafeBC Review Division.

If a worker or the union disagrees with a WorkSafeBC prevention officer's decision not to issue an order, can they appeal that decision?
Yes. A worker or union may appeal the officer's decision not to issue an order.

Must employers use certified first aid attendants?
Depending on the circumstances of their workplace, employers must use first aid attendants that meet the standards of Occupational First Aid Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3. See the list of first aid tickets and certificates recognized by WorkSafeBC.

Further information
For more information about the first aid amendments, call WorkSafeBC Certification Services at (604) 276-3090 in the Lower Mainland or call toll-free within B.C. 1 888 621-7233.

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