Is your first aid best practice, or a tick in the box?

JANET BROTHERS, MANAGING DIRECTOR, LIFE CARE CONSULTANTS 

AS WE ARE ALL very aware, the civil construction industry is full of risks to our health and safety and it is gratifying to see the industry taking on such a genuine and strategic approach to ensuring all staff go home safely.

Let’s look at some of the risks we need to not only manage but also ensure that the staff can assist their workmate, if the need arises, with effective first aid.

The demographics of the industry are a significant hazard on their own. With an ageing workforce, often the long hours worked can lead to ailments which may require first aid, e.g. heart disease, asthma and diabetes.

Clearly the machinery on site at any given time can cause significant injuries such as crushing, eye injuries and head and spinal injuries.

The environment is often a significant hazard as well and can involve heat and sun as well as snow, ice and sleet all of which can cause the body stress, trauma and significant ill health.

The terrain can be steep, or have major trenches, the environment can have several thousand people travel by each day, either as pedestrians or speeding by with only a ‘cone’ between the worker and the bus travelling at 110 kilometres per hour.

All of the above are ‘business as usual’ in the civil construction industry, so why do people in this industry get second rate and insufficient first aid training with the ‘new’ and now defunct unit standards 26551 and 26552? These unit standards are simply not relevant to your industry; they are great for Ma and Pa who would just like to know a little first aid in case the neighbour needs a hand one day.

The first aid providers who are providing these unit standards to the civil construction industry either don’t know the risks involved in the industry or they don’t care that many of your risks are not covered in these unit standards and therefore your staff are at risk.

Just like any training, first aid training needs to be fit for purpose, relevant and tailored to be specific to the learning styles and the outcome requirements of the trainees.

NZQA has recognised the 26551 & 26552 unit standards are not fit for industry so they have reverted back to the 6400 series, so if your first aid provider is not providing the 6400 series for your staff I believe they are ticking the box for you rather than providing best practice for you and your staff and your industry.

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