As per the department of labour first aid training requirements, it is a legal requirement that accredited first aid training is conducted in the workplace, which then enables the employer to provide first aid services to the organisations employees and visiting contractors and guests. This legal requirement is stated in the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act 85 of 1993, which is enforced by the Department of Labour (DOL) and its inspectors. The DOL has recently made changes to the OHS acts regulation pertaining to first aid training requirements, thereby ensuring that high standards and good quality first aid training is now a legal compliance requirement.
The role and function of the Department of Labour regarding First Aid
The OHS act has different sections and regulations which are aimed at looking after the health, safety and wellbeing of all the employee’s and people working or visiting any workplace. All organisations and the employer need to ensure legal compliance to the OHS act sections and regulations (irrespective of their primary occupation or core business functions).
The DOL has a Chief Inspector and many inspectors who are responsible for ensuring that organisations and companies implement and comply with the OHS act and more specifically in this case, the DOL first aid provision and first aid training requirements. As per the General Safety Regulation of the OHS act, the minimum requirements are that there are first aid kits and a first aider available at all times within the workplace.
The DOL and its inspectors are able to issue notices of non-conformance to organisations or employers, or individuals who do not comply with the minimum requirements of the OHS act, its regulations and first aid training accreditation requirements.
Depending on how severe the legal non-compliance position or matter is, will depend on how severe the DOL response will be. In severe or dangerous cases or conditions, the resulting action could be a criminal case is opened which might result in a fine, or imprisonment or even both.
Department of Labour New First Aid Requirements
The DOL inspectors visit as many workplaces as possible to check on OHS act compliance and all the time check if the organisation has sent employees on an accredited and recognized first aid course and then have implemented the required first aid procedures. The organisation would need to produce an accepted DOL and SETA accredited first aid certificate.
The chief inspector from the DOL recently released a Government Gazette Notice 44663 – regarding the OHS general safety regulation 3(4). This gazette states that all first aid training needs to be QCTO (Quality Council for Trade and Occupations) approved and can only be conducted by a first aid training provider that can produce a certificate issued by the Quality Assurance Body for first aid, such as the HWSETA.
There are three different first aid training courses which all form part of a quality council qualification. SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority) has placed these three first aid unit standard courses and qualifications, which SETA’s and their accredited skills development providers, such as HWSETA and Absolute Health Services, may offer to businesses or working organisations in South Africa.
There are three first aid level courses which are individually NQF (National Qualifications Framework) aligned and may also be grouped together in the form of a Skills Programme. Absolute Health Services has an HWSETA accredited skills programme, which includes all three first aid unit standards and is called – Advanced First Aid Responder. The first aid instructor must also be a SETA accredited facilitator and assessor, enabling them to conduct evaluations and assessment of delegates.
First aid training requirements for organisations
The OHS act with its safety regulation or safety act, or general safety regulation states that employers must train one first aider for every 50 employees and the first aid certificate must be approved by the DOL Chief inspector. Organisations must also take into account the level of risk within the workplace, which may require more employees trained or even training conducted at a higher level, requiring specific content or knowledge.
All first aid courses presented by accredited first aid training providers should cover certain common and specific course content such as a small amount of anatomy and physiology, heart attack, strokes, CPR, bleeding, wounds, and the basic life support protocols on how to treat these. The Department of Labour first aid training requirements are clear: the organisation chosen training provider must be accredited with a SETA and only then will the DOL Chief Inspector approve and sign off that provider’s first aid training certificate. It is there important to ask your first aid training provider to forward you their SETA and DOL accreditation certificates for first aid training.
Why comply with the DOL and first aid training requirements?
It is every employer’s responsibility to look after the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees and prepare for unexpected emergencies. Employers take prevention steps by adhering to the OHS act and DOL requirements, but when an emergency or incident happens, there must be well qualified first aiders in place to respond appropriately and try to save someone’s life. It is a proven fact that applying first aid and CPR does make a positive difference and may save someone’s life or positively impact their rate of recovery.
There must also be first aid boxes strategically placed throughout the workplace, so that the first aiders can use this equipment. The Contents of the first aid kits would include bandages, triangular bandages, scissors, antiseptic solution, etc.
If an organisation does not have DOL recognized first aiders within and across their workplace, then they are in breach of the OHS act and are non-compliant.
It is important to use a DOL and SETA accredited first aid training provider such as Absolute Health Services, as this will ensure that the first aid training you require is provided. This will create a prepared environment and should an accident or emergency occur that your health and safety team can respond appropriately and look after the workforce which is the organisations most precious asset.