Workplace First Aid Procedures

Workplace First Aid Procedures

In October 2005, the Draft General Health and Safety Regulations were gazetted, with Regulation 7 providing the specifications associated with First aid as well as emergency equipment and procedures.

Employers in South Africa must ensure that they implement the necessary measures in the workplace to provide employees with prompt emergency care treatment, especially when an injury or an emergency occurs.

In addition, every workplace that has 10 employees in a specific area must have at least one first aider. The designated employee appointed legally as the first aider must be readily available during working hours.

Where shops and offices are concerned, employers must appoint one first-aider per 100 employees while all other workplace classifications can have one first aider per 50 employees. Employers must ensure that their first aiders have attended training and that they are issued a valid first-aid certificate.

The issuer must carry approval by the chief inspector and if the workplace contains pesticides, hazardous chemical substances, or any other hazardous biological substances that are either handled, manufactured, or processed, the designated first aider must be qualified to deal with injuries that could result from exposure to such activities and substances.

When injuries occur in the workplace, emergency care procedures indicate that both employees and employers have certain duties that they must fulfil, namely:

  • Employees on duty who suffer an injury must report to their employer as soon as possible.
  • Employers may not allow the affected employee to work until the injury has been assessed, cleaned, and dressed.

Every workplace must have the relevant and appropriate emergency equipment that can be used in case of exposure to certain components. Some of the most common equipment includes the following:

  • Eye-wash fountains and other facilities are crucial for areas where employees could be exposed to chemicals or biological agents. In areas such as these, employees must have access to such facilities, and they must receive the appropriate training for correct use of such.
  • Deluge showers must be installed where employees are at risk of exposure to chemicals or biological agents that could absorb through clothing and into the skin. Training must be provided on how to use such facilities correctly.
  • A first aid kit that contains all the relevant components to treat minor injuries and to help until medical services arrive.

In addition to these facilities, employers must ensure that there are enough first-aid boxes provided in each workplace proportional to the number of employees. There must be a first-aid box per five employees in a working area to ensure that employees can receive adequate emergency care treatment.

These first-aid boxes must be placed in such a position that they can be accessed quickly if anyone in the workplace needs emergency care treatment. These first-aid boxes must be demarcated and there must be clear signage installed to indicate the location of the first aid boxes. First aiders must familiarize themselves with the layout of the workplace and know where to find first aid boxes.

First aid boxes must contain suitable components and first aid boxes must be inspected to ensure that these items are always present. The contents of the first aid box include these items:

  • Wound cleaner / antiseptic (100ml)
  • Swabs
  • Cotton wool (100g)
  • Sterile gauze (minimum 10)
  • A pair of forceps for splinters
  • A pair of scissors (min 100mm)
  • A set of safety pins
  • 4 triangular bandages
  • 4 roller bandages (75mm x 5m)
  • 4 roller bandages (100mm x 5m)
  • A roll of elastic adhesive (25mm x 3m)
  • Non-allergenic adhesive strip (25mm x 3m)
  • Adhesive dressing strips (min 10 of assorted sizes)
  • 4 First aid dressings (75mm x 100mm)
  • 4 First aid dressings (150mm x 200mm)
  • 2 Straight splints
  • 2 Pairs large and 2 medium pairs of disposable latex gloves
  • 2 mouthpieces for CPR
  • A reasonable amount of absorbent material for packing wounds
  • Disinfectant so that the area can be cleaned if bodily fluids spill from the wound
  • 2 large and 2 medium pairs of disposable household-grade gloves
  • A suitable bag that is designated for the disposal of biohazard materials

What is First Aid in the Workplace?

First Aid in the workplace can simply be defined as the process that is involved in providing injured employee assistance until professional medical care can be provided, or until emergency services arrive.

First aid should never be considered as professional medical care and no first aider can be considered a doctor or medical practitioner. The basic purpose of a workplace first aid course is to prepare employees for things that may occur in the workplace.

The primary goals of first aid relate to the following:

  • The preservation of life
  • Prevention of further injury
  • Promotion of recovery

Employers must ensure that they must make adequate provisions for first aid in the workplace. However, the employer must understand the nature of the workplace so that they can make adequate provision for any injuries that could occur.

Adequate workplace first aid means that there is enough emergency care equipment, facilities, and trained personnel to tend to injuries. When employers decide on the provisions they must make, the first step involves carrying out a comprehensive first aid need assessment.

This assessment will consider the workplace circumstances of employees, and the hazards and risks that may be present in each workplace. When employers evaluate the findings from this assessment, they will have a clear guideline on the first aid requirements of every workplace or working area.

When employers consider their first aid needs, the following components are noted:

  • The nature of business
  • Workplace hazards as well as risks, including specific risks that require additional arrangements
  • The overall size of the workforce and the activities that are carried out
  • The working hours of staff and their work patterns
  • First aiders in terms of leave schedules, holidays, and absences to ensure that there is always a first aider on duty
  • The organisation's safety performance and history of incidents, along with accident rates
  • Travelling needs of remote and lone workers
  • How employees are distributed across the working environment
  • Site remoteness and distance from the nearest emergency medical services along with response time
  • Multi-occupancy in the workplace
  • To what extent first aid should be provided to non-employees

Why First Aid is Important in the Workplace

Hazards and risks can be present in even the most unsuspecting places such as an office, especially when comparing it to something as large as a construction site or a manufacturing facility. However, despite the working environment, hazards and risks are present and no matter how small, they can lead to an injury on duty.

Even the smallest of injuries can tarnish an outstanding safety record and if these incidents add up, it can affect the morale of employees and even the bottom line of the business. Accidents can happen and employers must ensure that their employees can receive assistance until medical services arrive.

Workplace first aid is important and having adequate first aid procedures, equipment, and trained personnel can hold several benefits, including those indicated below.

MAKROSAFE have been assisting clients with Workplace First Aid Procedures for more than 24 years.

Contact MAKROSAFE today for a Service Level Agreement to Impliment your Health and Safety Programme.

First Aid treatment can save lives

While first-aid should not be seen as medical treatment, responding to an incident or accident fast and applying treatment can save lives. A first-aid course provides employees with the confidence and the ability to react quickly if there is an incident, injury, or emergency.

For instance, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) has saved countless lives in the world in both work and non-work situations.

Cost Versus Benefits

Employers must provide first-aid training to designated employees. Not only is the first aid course an affordable venture, but the benefits that are realized from providing employees first aid training outweigh the cost.

It can benefit anyone outside of work

First-aid training is not only applicable during work hours. First aiders and people who have the necessary qualifications are provided skills that they can use outside the workplace, where they could potentially save another person’s life.

It provides the perfect platform for teambuilding

Employees can attend training together, allowing them to work together and look after one another, which creates strong professional relationships and leads to improved morale and stronger productivity.

Reduction of workplace incidents

When employees attend a first-aid course, they are made more aware of the injuries that they could sustain, and this can help to create awareness. Employees become more aware of the dangers around them and while it is ideal to prevent injuries, awareness of dangers, hazards, and risks could reduce incidents because employees become more safety-conscious.

It contributes to a positive work environment

When employers provide first aid training to employees, they show that they care about the safety of their workers. Employers also show that they care enough about employees by providing them with the skills they need to look after themselves.

This creates a positive work environment, and it can boost morale and productivity significantly.

Employees will know how to respond in an emergency

When employees are trained in first-aid and emergency procedures they will react promptly and systematically to incidents, injuries, and emergencies, which could save lives.

Employees who have been trained in first-aid and emergency management will be able to:

  • Survey the scene for any additional dangers to the inured employee and other workers
  • They can look for the cause of the injury
  • They will know not to move the injured person until medical services arrive
  • They will know to call emergency services once the area is safe
  • They will be able to administer basic first aid that can potentially save a life in addition to being able to keep the injured person calm until they can receive professional medical attention

It improves the overall safety of the company

Large companies make first-aid training a part of generic inductions and training processes, which is one of the best options as it ensures that all employees can react in an emergency. This makes the overall workplace much safer, and it provides employees with the skills they need to practice duty of care.

Recovery time is reduced

When a first aider in the workplace can react promptly to illness or injury before professional medical services arrive it will not only save a life but can reduce the overall recovery time of the injured person.

First Aid Competence

According to the South African Health and Safety Regulations, every employer must ensure that all the necessary measures are taken to ensure that employees can receive prompt, effective first-aid treatment if an injury, incident, or emergency occurs in the workplace or work area.

For every workplace where there are 10, or more, employees a first aider must be appointed. Where shops and offices are concerned, there must be a first aider per 100 employees while all other workplaces require one first aider per 50 employees.

Every legally appointed first aider must have a valid certificate of competence. A typical first aid certificate in South Africa is valid for 3 years, after which retraining is needed for the certificate to be reissued.

A first aider is an employee who undertakes training proportional to the circumstances and these employees must have a certificate of competence in either of the following:

  • Workplace first aid
  • Emergency first aid at the workplace, or any other level of training or a qualification that is appropriate for the specific circumstances

Follow the links below for all your First Aid Training:

Basic First Aid (Previously Level 1)

Intermediate First Aid (Previously Level 2)

Advanced First Aid (Previously Level 3)

When first aiders attend training in first aid, they will be taught and trained in some of the following subjects:

  • The basic principles of first aid and safety in the workplace
  • Emergency scene management
  • How to approach a patient
  • How to check vitals on a patient
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) procedure
  • Choking and airway obstruction identification and treatment
  • Wounds and bleeding
  • Dressings and bandaging
  • Burns and treatment
  • Spinal and brain injuries identification and procedure
  • Bone injuries, splinting thereof
  • The contents of a first aid box

There must be a designated first aider in the workplace who has basic first aid training. Employers in South Africa are required to ensure that such persons are appointed. In addition to providing the equipment needed to apply first aid, employers must ensure every first aid kit is maintained and inspected every three months by a competent person.

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Posted date: 9th Dec 2021
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