In aid of safety
It is important that employees receive fast and appropriate first-aid treatment when injured at work – it can mean the difference between life and death. Sarah Heep, marketing officer at St John, elaborates on employers’ first-aid duties and what to look for in training providers
The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act, of 1993, is very clear regarding an employer’s first-aid duties. In terms of the Act, employers are legally required to provide their employees with a safe working environment. They also have to take all reasonable steps necessary to ensure that their employees receive prompt first-aid treatment, in the event of an injury or medical emergency.
Safety is a two-way street; both management and staff need to work together to identify dangers and to develop and implement the necessary safety measures to keep the workplace safe.
The OHS Act states: “When there are more than ten employees 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 of 1983), for every group of up to 100 employees, at least one person is readily available during normal working hours, who is in possession of a valid certificate of competency in first aid.”
There are a number of questions companies should ask when choosing a first-aid training provider:
• Are they registered with, and do they meet the requirements of, the Department of Labour?
• Are they recognised internationally?
This is important if your employees move from country to country in the course of their duties. St John offers first-aid training in more than 40 countries, worldwide. This means that when you choose St John as your first-aid training provider, your certificate will, in most instances, be recognised.
• Are they registered with the Resuscitation Council of South Africa to ensure that current Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) protocols are being taught?
• Does the course offer the right balance of theory and practical hands-on training? This is vital as first aid is about applying practical skills, often under immense pressure.
• Can they provide first-aid training in line with your company’s particular risk register?
• Are their instructors regularly monitored and evaluated?
• Are their courses aligned to the latest training theories?
• Do they offer observation learning, including multi-media training aids?
• Is the training suitable for learners with limited reading and writing skills?
Depending on your particular work environment and risk factors, it is advisable to send employees for refresher training annually.
It is also a good idea to arrange mock accident scenarios within the workplace so that the company’s disaster plan can be practised by the safety team and, where necessary, the local emergency services can be involved.
Some companies have implemented in-house first-aid competitions for their employees in order to keep their skills and knowledge up to date.