Ensure your first aid isn’t fallible

Ensure your first aid isn’t fallible

Injuries can happen at work, play or home. Quick and efficient administration of first aid can preserve life, prevent an injury from becoming worse and promote recovery. We chat to Saroj Rajoo, regional director of the Western Cape at the Order of St John South Africa.

There is a specific regulation in the General Safety Regulations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHASA) that stipulates: “Where more than 10 employees are employed at a workplace, the employer of such employees shall take steps to ensure that for every group of up to 50 employees at that workplace, or in the case of a shop or an office as contemplated in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 3 of 1983, for every group of up to 100 employees, at least one person is readily available during normal working hours, who has a valid certificate of competency in first aid.”

This means that an employer with the stipulated amount of employees (or more) must ensure that there are first aiders adequately trained in first aid. “The level of first aid required is industry specific and must be complied with,” Rajoo points out. “Apart from ensuring that the appointed first aider has a valid first aid certificate of competence, the employer must also provide adequately stocked first aid kits.”

How have training and an employer’s duties changed over the years?

The first aid training landscape has changed significantly since April 1, 2021. First aid levels 1, 2 and 3 training that was conducted by organisations approved by the Chief Inspector under the Department of Employment and Labour (DoEL) was no longer in effect after that date.

Quoting from the Government Notice number R328: “A person or organisation who wants to provide First Aid Training approved by the Chief Inspector, as referred to in Regulation 3(4) of the General Safety Regulation published under Government Notice R1031 of 30 May 1986, must be in accordance with a valid accreditation document issued by the Quality Assurance Body that has been delegated the quality assurance responsibilities for First Aid unit standards by the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO), established in terms of section 26 (1) of the Skills Development Act 37 of 2008, as amended.”

This means that staff who were trained in first aid will have to complete accredited training, based on the industry-specific first aid South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) unit standard. The employer’s responsibility is to ensure that the training provider conducting the training is a reputable provider who is registered with the DoEL and holds accreditation with the relevant quality assurance body, in this case, the respective Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA).

In addition, on completion of the classroom-based training, the learner must complete certain tasks within the workplace that must be overseen and signed off by a supervisor or mentor. Thus the employer plays an active role in staff development.

What should organisations consider when looking for a first aid training provider?

Is the provider registered with the Department of Employment and Labour? Request a copy of the registration certificate.

Is the provider accredited with the relevant SETA – in other words, has the provider been delegated the quality assurance responsibilities for first aid unit standards? Request the provider’s accreditation document (which would have been issued by the relevant SETA).

First aid levels 1, 2 and 3 combined and presented in one week do not qualify as SETA-accredited training. There are prerequisite unit standards that must be completed before completing levels 2 and levels 3 first aid. If providers do not ensure completion of these prerequisites, the training does not fulfil the SAQA unit standard requirements.

If providers offer a certificate of competence within a few days or weeks post training, be cautious: this is another indication of non-compliance with the process of accredited training. Accredited training is credit-bearing and entails a process of facilitation, assessment, internal and external moderation and finally verification and endorsement. On successful completion of the whole process, which can take at least three to four months, learners are issued their statement of results and certificates of competence. While awaiting the completion of this process, the provider may issue a certificate of attendance. 

How frequently should first aiders attend refresher courses?

Refresher courses are recommended every three years from the date of issue of certification, unless there are protocol changes before the three years, specifically for life-threatening emergencies such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

What challenges does first aid training face?

Accredited training comes at a higher price due to the increased costs of paying assessors and moderators. There are organisations falsely selling first aid training as accredited at a lower price than we do. Apart from the fact that we are losing clients, these clients are being misled into believing that they are completing accredited training that meets their compliance requirements. Employers in most industries are still unfamiliar with the changes in the training landscape and they are being deceived into believing that they are paying for accredited training.

How is St John overcoming these?

We are informing clients and prospective clients about the new requirements and process of accredited training that is required for OHASA compliance.

What does the future hold for first aid training and its implementation within organisations?

As accredited training speaks to a high level of quality, the level of knowledge and skills of first aiders is much improved. Service providers should be committed to upholding the high quality of credit-bearing courses that enable learners to build career pathways to full qualifications. The implementation of accredited first aid training is a stringent process and, to avoid disadvantaging our learners, providers must ensure full compliance with SETA requirements.

Any additional comments?

St John has been serving communities in South Africa for over 130 years. Our facilitators are highly skilled subject-matter experts who receive continuation training, keeping up to date with the latest first aid protocols. We are committed to offering quality training and empowering our learners with first aid knowledge and skills that enable them to act promptly and effectively in an emergency, be it at work, home or play.

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SHEQ MANAGEMENT is the definitive source for reliable, accurate and pertinent information to guarantee environmental health and safety in the workplace.
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