Many common workplace injuries can be treated on site using the materials in a standard first aid kit (not sure what should be included in yours? See First Aid Kits: The Essential List). Even more serious injuries that require qualified medical care can be less severe and less likely to be fatal if first aid is administered immediately. Knowing some first aid basics, then, is an essential part of workplace safety.

This article will go over ten common first aid incidents and provide a brief overview of how to treat them on the scene.

Sprains, Strains, and Tears

When a worker suffers a sprain, strain, tear take place, the first thing to do is immobilize the affected area, elevate it, and apply ice and compression to reduce swelling.

Strains accompanied by severe pain, swelling,or discoloration may require a trip to the hospital. In milder cases, rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication will help the area heal within a few days or week.

Soreness and Pain

If an employee complains of soreness or pain, the cause needs to be identified and removed. Soreness can be caused by poor ergonomics, bad posture, or repetitive motions during the course of the day (find out more about the Top Ergonomics Issues in the Workplace). Determining the root cause of the issue and addressing it can result in immediate improvement. If pain is severe or persists, the employee may need to visit a health professional for a diagnosis.

Bruises and Contusions

Bruises and contusions usually occur as a result of impact with an object, whether it is moving or stationary. The site of the injury is often swollen and takes on a purplish or blackish discoloration (ecchymosis). If the pain is not tolerable, administer over-the-counter pain killers.

Lukewarm water can also be placed in a small plastic bottle and rolled over the affected area to hasten the re-absorption of blood, which can improve the appearance of the bruise. This warm water therapy can be performed periodically until the pain and discoloration have gone away.

Cuts, Lacerations, and Punctures

Cuts, lacerations, and punctures can be more serious. If bleeding is not profuse, wash the site of injury with water and soap. Antiseptic solution can also be applied. Cover the wound with sterilized gauze held in place by adhesive tape. If there is bleeding, apply direct pressure. Never try to remove objects or debris from a wound.


Fractures are broken bones, and they can occur as a result of falls or other impact. When this happens, the affected part should be immobilized and unnecessary manipulation of the affected area should be avoided.

Remember that a fracture could sever a blood vessel or a nerve if it is not immobilized, resulting in a much more serious injury. Immobilize the injured part, and transport the patient to the nearest hospital or medical clinic as soon as possible.


For mild to moderate burns, run cool water over the burned area (avoid using ice) for up to 15 minutes, and then cover the affected area with clean gauze to prevent infection and contact with the air, which an cause pain.

If the burn is severe (through more than two layers of skin) or covers a large area, the burned area can be elevated and covered with a clean, moist, sterile bandage or cloth. Never try to remove burned clothing. Call emergency personnel to the scene immediately.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. It is usually caused by an injury to the wrist that causes swelling, such as sprain or fracture. It is very common among workers who repeatedly use vibrating hand tools, as well as among those who use a computer mouse for long periods. If you suspect CTS, use an analgesic, muscle relaxant, or anti-inflammatory drug and instruct the injured worker to rest.


The most serious immediate concern for an amputation is bleeding. The best way to reduce bleeding is by applying pressure. If that doesn't work, a tourniquet may be used. Because this may have complications, it should be applied by someone with first aid training if possible and should only be used in situations where the bleeding cannot be stopped by more simple means.

Chemical Burns and Corrosion

When a chemical, such as hydrochloric or sulfuric acid, is accidentally poured on the skin, it can result in a chemical burn or corrosion. The first step in treating a chemical burn is to remove the chemical from the skin as much as possible by flushing it with water or, if it's a dry powder, brushing it off and removing affected clothing and jewelry. Apply a damp, cool compress to relieve pain and then cover the affected area with a clean sheet or cloth to avoid infection and prevent contact with the air. In cases where the victim is showing any bodily reaction to the injury, emergency personnel should be contacted immediately.