Canadian Safety Reporter

December 2014

Focuses on occupational health and safety issues at a strategic level. Designed for employers, HR managers and OHS professionals, it features news, case studies on best practices and practical tips to ensure the safest possible working environment.

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CSR | December 2014 | News ©2014 Thomson Reuters Canada Ltd ISBN/ISSN: 978-0-7798-2810-4 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher (Carswell, a Thomson Reuters business). Canadian Safety Reporter is part of the Canadian HR Reporter group of publications: • Canadian HR Reporter — • Canadian Occupational Safety magazine — • Canadian Payroll Reporter — • Canadian Employment Law Today — • Canadian Labour Reporter — See for information Safety Reporter Canadian Published 12 times a year by Thomson Reuters Canada Ltd. Subscription rate: $129 per year Customer Service Tel: (416) 609-3800 (Toronto) (800) 387-5164 (outside Toronto) Fax: (416) 298-5106 E-mail: carswell.customerrelations Website: One Corporate Plaza 2075 Kennedy Road Toronto, Ontario, Canada M1T 3V4 Director, Carswell Media Karen Lorimer Publisher John Hobel (on leave) Acting Publisher/Managing Editor Todd Humber Assistant Editor Mallory Hendry (416) 649-7898 Contributing Editors Liz Foster Sabrina Nanji Sarah Dobson Liz Bernier Jeffrey R. Smith Marketing Manager Mohammad Ali (416) 609-5866 Circulation Co-ordinator Keith Fulford (416) 649-9585 22 per cent have taken a first aid/CPR course in the last three years, found the survey of 1,010 people. "Taking a course or getting certified would go a long way in boosting the confidence of many Canadians in performing CPR if they needed to and, indeed, nine in 10 who were polled confirmed this," said Marentette. People are scared about mak- ing a mistake, hurting someone or being sued, said Lyle Kara- siuk, director of public affairs at Parkland Ambulance Care in Prince Albert, Sask. But as long as they're not doing something like using booster cables to pump someone's heart, they'll be OK. "That's the kind of ridicu- lous things that will get people in trouble, but as long as people are doing their very best with the skills that they know, Good Sa- maritan legislation across Cana- da will protect them," he said. Good Samaritan legislation in most provinces and territories in Canada protects those who vol- untarily come to the assistance of others in emergency situations. Unless a person is employed expressly to render medical ser- vices or aid, British Columbia's act, for example, states: "A person who renders emer- gency medical services or aid to an ill, injured or unconscious person, at the immediate scene of an accident or emergency that has caused the illness, injury or unconsciousness, is not liable for damages for injury to or death of that person caused by the per- son's act or omission in rendering the medical services or aid unless that person is grossly negligent." "There is no increased liability due to the fact that someone's trained in first aid, CPR and AED," said James Donato, CEO of Workplace Law Consulting in Toronto. "The key word is 'vol- unteer,' so you're volunteering your services to help preserve the life of someone in need." The act is there to encourage bystanders to assist someone in need, said Donato. "A first aider is protected by the Good Samaritan Act, as long as they do what is reasonable and what is taught in the class. If they exceed what is taught in the class and it's proven that they're negli- gent, then they could be charged." "Gross negligence" could in- clude performing an invasive procedure such as a tracheotomy or surgery, he said. "(It's) basical- ly injuring somebody further by doing something that you were not taught to do in class." People watch American tele- vision, where there are people being sued, said Lib Mendonça, program development officer at St. John Ambulance in Ottawa. "One of the first things you have to take care of in that first aid class is you have to reassure people that what they're going to do is useful and effective and, no, they're not going to be liable for it," he said. "You have to make the Good Samaritan legislation or English common law very explicit with people so they understand the legal framework they're work- ing under. The English Common Law basically says that while you have no obligation to help some- one, if you do choose to help someone, that's good, then you're not held liable for that. "The idea here is that if you're an average person, whether you're a medical professional or just the average person on the street, the general public, if you stop and see an accident, you have no legal obligation to help, there's no legal compulsion to as- sist them, even if you have any of the skills — you're not on duty, it's not your job." If you stop and help, the law thinks you're doing a good thing, said Mendonça. "But you can still do some- thing that the law will consider egregious — you might do some- thing stupid, in other words. "So if you stop and do some- thing you're trained for, maybe all you can do is throw a blan- ket over this person or stop the bleeding with pressure, the law thinks that's wonderful," he said. "The law is very flexible with people, the idea being that the av- erage person maybe hasn't taken a whole lot of first aid training, hasn't taken it very recently and certainly hasn't practised it a lot, so it has to be something pretty awful before the law considers them liable." There's also the issue of im- plied consent, said Donato. "Implied consent is when a person is unresponsive, they're unconscious, maybe not breath- ing, maybe can't speak, whatever the case may be and, in that case, it's implied that they would want your help… that sort of ties into the Good Samaritan Act." The biggest fears for people re- sponding to someone in distress are fear of infection or contract- ing a disease, fear of liability and fear of doing something wrong, said Donato. And people don't have a duty to act. "If they don't act, there is no liability, there is no law… in On- tario that states if you don't act, you will be charged if you're first aid-certified. So if you don't act, for whatever reason, there is no risk of being charged." However, if an employee takes first aid training offered by an employer, she is required to act. "The employer, to satisfy OHS laws, must offer first aid in the workplace if something goes wrong… and that means that the employee now has a duty to act, they must perform first aid when the time comes," said Mendonça. "At the workplace, if somebody says, 'Come quick, there's some- thing happening in the lunch- room,' I don't have the option of saying, 'I don't feel like it today.' I'm a first aider, I'm trained by the employer to do this, 'Where's my first aid kit?' and off I go." Wary of first aid? < pg. 1 Good Samaritan laws protect people who try to help As long as they're not doing something like using booster cables to pump someone's heart, they'll be OK.

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