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When it comes to first aid training and any first aid course in South Africa, along with how or where it fits in with the workplace, there may be a degree of uncertainty and misinformation around it. As a leading training provider, we’re aware that the responsibility falls on us to clear some of the misconceptions that revolve around first aid, especially when it comes to the workplace. In this article, we take a look at, and answer some of the most pressing questions that surround first aid and first aid training.

First Aid Regulations in the Workplace:

A certificate in a first aid course can be considered a life skill or, in its entirety, serve as a stepping stone for someone to get into the medical field. However, it’s first and foremost a life-saving tool. In an emergency situation, having someone who knows first aid could mean the difference between life and death. It is for this reason that policies have been put in place by the South African government to ensure that every workplace cultivates a safe environment via safety regulations and first aid training.

The health and safety act of South Africa has put in place a number of regulations to which places of work need to adhere. The act states that 'an employer shall take all reasonable steps that are necessary under the circumstances, to ensure that persons at work receive prompt first aid treatment in case of injury or emergency.' This means that every employer must ensure that there are first aid certified staff in the workplace at all times that would be able to assist during emergencies.

Furthermore, the regulations require that whenever there are more than ten employees employed at a workplace, the employer needs to appoint a first aider. This is a compulsory and legal requirement that dictates that the appointed first aider should be readily available during standard operating hours.

Depending on the industry, the ratio of first aiders to employees increases once the workforce becomes larger. This means that for shops and offices at least one first aider is required for every 100 employees while other workplaces, such as the manual labour sector, require at least one first aider for every 50 employees.

The legal competency of the first aider requires them to have a valid first aid certificate, of at least Level 1, issued by a person or organisation that has been approved by the chief inspector to do so. Bearing this in mind, it’s easy to see the need for competent and accredited course training institutions to provide adequate first aid courses.

It is also a requirement for the workplace to have an easily accessible first aid kit available and at all times, with specific minimum contents that can be found at the bottom of this article.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

How Long is a First Aid Certificate Valid in South Africa?

The basic first aid course, the refresher course, as well as level 1, level 2, and level 3 first aid courses, are all valid for a total of three years and all courses qualify as a Red Cross first aid course. While the certification will remain valid for three years after it’s been obtained, it can be immensely advantageous to take a refresher course in the times in between. This will help ensure that knowledge and skills are up to date, which could make all the difference in life-threatening or serious first aid situations. It’s not unusual for larger organisations to mandate that their first aiders take annual refresher courses, even though it’s not a legal requirement.

How Long Will My First Aid Certificate be Valid?

When you complete your first aid course, you will be awarded a certificate, which will be valid for three years after which it will need to be renewed. When it comes to the renewal of your first aid certificate, you can take a refresher course to get your new certificate. To keep on the safe side, many people or companies opt to do this bi-annually or annually. Not only does it eliminate the risk of your certificate’s validity expiring, but it keeps your first aid knowledge and skills sharp at all times.

How Long is a First Aider Course?

The basic first aid course we offer generally takes two days to complete. Other courses take between 3-4 days to complete, depending on the course or level of first aid that is in question. The courses consist of tuition that is split into two parts that include both theoretical elements as well as practical training.

Upon finishing the minimum Level 1 first aid course, the first aider will be competent in dealing with the emergencies below:

  • Emergency scene management
  • Severe bleeding and wounds
  • Burns
  • Broken or fractured limbs
  • Head and spinal injuries
  • Choking
  • Artificial Respiration
  • Shock, unconsciousness, and fainting
  • Performing CPR

This level is the minimum requirement by law and is adequate for the majority of situations that may transpire in an everyday environment. The contents of Level 2 and Level 3 courses go into much more depth and are better suited for situations where more specific emergencies may occur, such as drowning or diving accidents, rescue carries, sports injuries, and even emergency childbirth.

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Can I Do a First Aid Course Online?

While you can do a first aid course online, it is not the most optimal method to get certified. As online-only tuition limits the student to the full spectrum of a first aid course and the practical facet of the course cannot be conducted virtually. For full certification, and considering possible, severe consequences in emergencies, we recommend that the student perform the practical aspect in physical form as well.

It is also important to note that first aid training for a home environment is different from a first aid course certificate that is required in the workplace as the requirements and regulations for the latter differ dramatically. It is therefore crucial to ensure that the first aid course you enrol in adheres to these requirements.

What Can I Do with a First Aid Certificate?

Having a valid and accredited first aid certificate can be beneficial in a number of different ways. Firstly, it will give you, the first aider, the peace of mind to know that you are able to assist or treat an injured person medically provided that the person in need has given you their consent to treat or help them.

Even though it’s unlikely that a first aid certificate would afford you employment on its own, it can certainly help to increase your chances of being the selected candidate in some instances, especially when it comes to industries where the care of others may be required. Certified candidates in professions such as teaching, coaching, and guiding may have preference over those that do not.

In other positions, many employers that are looking to appoint people in positions such as au pairs, domestic workers, child care, and fragile care, may see a first aid certificate as a necessity rather than an added benefit or bonus. So, if you’re looking to gain employment in any of these fields specifically, it will always be a worthwhile investment to obtain your first aid certificate.

Considering that Level 1 first aid is a requirement to any workplace as per the Occupational Health and Safety Act, OHSA 1993, it may even be of benefit in office or administrative roles as the employer would then not need to spare extra expenses to adhere to the law.

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Can I Study First Aid Without a Matric Certificate?

Yes, you can study for a first aid course without the need for a matric certificate. A matric certificate is thus not a requirement to obtain a first aid certificate through us. However, since the courses consist of a theoretical aspect in conjunction with the practical facet, a decent level of reading, writing, and communication in English may be required. However, other official language instructors are available on request for groups of 10 or more people.

Minimum Contents of a First Aid Kit:

In the case of shops and offices, the quantities stated under items 1, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 17, and 18 may be reduced by half:

Item 1 - Wound cleaner / antiseptic (100ml)
Item 2 - Swabs for cleaning wounds
Item 3 - Cotton wool for padding (100g)
Item 4 - Sterile gauze (minimum quantity 10)
Item 5 - 1 pair of forceps (for splinters)
Item 6 - 1 pair of scissors (minimum size 100mm)
Item 7 - 1 set of safety pins
Item 8 - 4 triangular bandages
Item 9 - 4 roller bandages (75mm x 5m)
Item 10 - 4 roller bandages (100mm x 5m)
Item 11 - 1 roll of elastic adhesive (25mm x 3m)
Item 12 - 1 Non-allergenic adhesive strip (25mm x 3m)
Item 13 - 1 Packet of adhesive dressing strips (minimum quantity of 10 assorted sizes)
Item 14 - 4 First aid dressings (75mm x 100mm)
Item 15 - 4 First aid dressings (150mm x 200mm)
Item 16 - 2 Straight splints
Item 17 - 2 Pairs of large and 2 pairs of medium disposable latex gloves
Item 18 - 2 CPR mouthpieces or similar devices

Spillage Kit:

Item 19 - An adequate supply of absorbent material for the absorption of blood and other body fluids spilled
Item 20 - Disinfectant to disinfect the area after cleaning up blood and other body fluids spilled.
Item 21 - 2 Pairs of large and 2 pairs of medium disposable rubber household gloves.
Item 22 - A suitable-sized, impervious bag for the safe disposal of blood and other body fluid contaminated biohazard materials

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