How to Prepare for Medical Emergencies on Construction Sites

An overview of the steps employers can take to prepare for a medical emergency, including worksite planning of emergencies, having proper medical care available, and staying up to date with provincial injury reports.


A medical emergency can happen in the blink of an eye. Emergencies are usually unexpected and require urgent decision making. Because of their unpredictable nature, emergencies are usually stressful for all parties involved. Emergencies rarely occur with all the necessary personnel and equipment present, and there is often extra pressure to organize the proper resources and personnel quickly, adding extra pressure on staff responding to the emergency.

There are many steps employers can take to help prepare their workforce for an emergency. From risk management to ensuring the proper medical facilities are present, you can never be too prepared for an emergency. In addition, the Canadian Center of Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) recommends having an emergency plan in place, to ensure staff know how to respond during these difficult situations. Some preventive measures to consider include:

  • Policies to prevent fatalities and injuries
  • Strategies to reduce damage to buildings, stock, and equipment
  • Procedures to protect the environment and the community
  • A plan to resume normal operations after an emergency

Preparing for Medical Emergencies

Follow OHS Guidelines for Risk Management at Worksites

BC Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines state that “the employer must conduct a risk assessment in any workplace in which a need to rescue or evacuate workers may arise”. A thorough risk assessment needs to take into consideration hazards that include the following:

  • Working at high angles
  • Working in confined spaces or where there is a risk of entrapment
  • Working with hazardous substances
  • Underground work
  • Working on or over water
  • Workplaces where there are persons who require physical assistance to be moved

More information can be found in section G4.13(1) Emergency preparedness and response – Risk assessment of the Occupational Health and Safety Guide.

Establish a Detailed Emergency Response Action Plan

Creating an emergency response plan has numerous benefits for both employees and employers. A thorough emergency response plan will identify hazards that have failed to be identified previously, as well as equipment deficiencies and other gaps in policy and procedure. This recognition is key in correcting hazards before an emergency occurs. A proper emergency response plan also demonstrates the organization’s commitment to the safety of their workers, helping to enforce a culture of safety.

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS), an emergency response plan should include the following:

  • All possible emergencies, consequences, required actions, written procedures, and the resources available.
  • Detailed lists of emergency response personnel including their cell phone numbers, alternate contact details, and their duties and responsibilities.
  • Floor plans and worksite plans.
  • Large scale maps showing evacuation routes and service conduits (such as gas and water lines).

Once the emergency response plan is complete, emergency training needs to be conducted so employees know how to respond in an emergency.

Station On-Site Mobile Medical Units

Mobile medical units are first aid facilities stationed onsite to ensure immediate medical care from a certified first aid attendant is available in case of emergency. These units are required by WorkSafe BC for remote and high-risk worksites.

Mobile medical units are supplied with certified first aid kits and feature extra headroom, making them ideal in various medical situations. Mounted on four wheel drive vehicles with rollover technology, mobile medical units can also be used as an Emergency Transport Vehicle (ETV) if the patient needs to be treated at a healthcare facility for advanced trauma.  Each mobile medical unit has advanced communication devices that ensures communication remains uncompromised, even in the most remote worksites.

The key benefits of having a mobile medical unit stationed on-site include:

  • Quickly treating injured patients, helping to mitigate life-threatening emergencies
  • Having adequate equipment for first aid attendants to respond no matter the nature of the emergency

Stay Up-To-Date with Provincial Injuries

WorkSafe BC maintains a database of workplace injuries, organized by various sectors across BC. Employers need to be aware of recent and common types of injuries in their industry, taking protective measures to prevent similar occurrences from happening on their job site.

You can also subscribe to WorkSafe BC enews to have updates delivered right to your inbox.

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