Dealing With Epileptic Fits In The Workplace
Posted on 26th Apr, 2017 | By Lorretta Tatham
Continuing our series on workplace medical emergencies (beginning with this entry on workplace blood injuries), our blog this week concerns epileptic seizures in the workplace. Epilepsy is a reasonably common condition with symptoms that can vary in severity – it’s important to be able to recognise the signs and symptoms of an occurring episode so that you can ensure the safety of the person affected.
How To Deal With A Convulsive Seizure
This is the most commonly recognised form of seizure. Formerly referred to as a ‘grand mal’ seizure, the current recognised term is tonic-clonic. Tonic means stiffening, and clonic refers to jerking or convulsing. Other symptoms include losing control of bodily functions or irregular breathing.
When someone is having a convulsive seizure, you should:
- Give them as much space as you can (this may mean clearing objects from nearby)
- Cushion their head as best you can with something soft
- Look for any identity jewellery or ID cards – or anything else aimed at advising witnesses on the best specific courses of action
- Time how long the jerking lasts
- Place them in the recovery position once it stops, in order to aid their breathing
- Stay with them until they’re recovered
- Be calm at all times
However, don’t restrain them or attempt to move them unless they’re in immediate physical danger. There are also a number of other things you should never do, which we go into in more detail below.
Effectively Dealing With Focal Seizures
Focal seizures aren’t as easy to spot, but can potentially be just as dangerous depending on the nature of the workplace environment. Also known as a partial seizure, this is when the person may not be aware of their surroundings, and seem confused or dazed. They may also exhibit odd behaviour like picking at their clothes, swallowing excessively or wandering around aimlessly.
When someone is having a focal seizure, you should:
- Guide them away from active, busy or dangerous environments (for example, construction works or factory floors)
- Stay calm and reassuring
- Avoid shouting at them or acting in a way that could frighten them
- Automatically assume they’re aware of what’s going on around them
Other Important Things To Be Aware Of
Although they are two different types of seizure, they share similarities in that there are certain things you should never do when dealing with them:
- Forcibly restrain them in any way
- Give them anything to eat or drink – this opens them up to the danger of choking if they’re not in full control
- Attempt to bring them round
- Leave them anywhere – even only for a few moments – until they are fully recovered
You should consider calling an ambulance if:
- It’s their first seizure
- It’s a convulsive seizure that continues for more than five minutes (this officially constitutes a medical emergency)
- They have two successive convulsive seizures in a short space of time
- They are evidently injured, or you think they otherwise require professional medical attention
At Browns Safety, your wellbeing is our priority. We offer several first aid courses to help ensure your physical safety in the workplace, whether you’re based in the office or the shop floor. These training courses include detailed instructions and physical demonstrations on the best courses of action to follow in case of seizures and other epileptic episodes.
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