After numerous inquiries from training providers asking for advice on Government Gazette Notice 1463, the Saiosh Health and Safety Training Advisory Committee (SHASTAC) was established. It is providing assistance and direction to members.

S ubstantial changes were made to the first aid training accreditation requirements by Notice 1463. The first notice was published in August 2017, and the period had been extended twice after efforts from Saiosh and SHASTAC.

Saiosh lodged an urgent section 40 application on January 17, 2021, against a portion of regulation 3(4) of the general safety regulations, requesting a further extension until March 2022. However, Tibor Szana, the chief inspector of the Department of Employment and Labour (DoEL), responded in March 2021, to Saiosh stating that the first notice was published in August 2017 and that the request to further extend the period to next year March could not be granted.

DoEL Notice R.682 of 2020 (G.G. 43447 of 19/06/2020) – Amended Notice of Direction in terms of Section 27(2) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, read with Regulation 3(4) of the General Safety Regulations – thus came into full effect on April 1, 2021.

Essentially the traditional Document C – First Aid Level 1, 2 and 3 (or combination) courses cease to be approved by the DoEL and can no longer be taught, as they are not accredited by the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) or its quality assurance partner(s) (the SETAs). In addition, no more refresher training can be offered.

The following South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) unit standards (US) have been identified to replace First Aid Level 1, 2 and 3 courses and will be the only first aid training that will be accepted in terms of general safety regulations (GSR) 3.4:

The following must be noted regarding these unit standards:

Quality assurance partners (QAPs): The training provider may register with one of a number of QAPs as approved by the QCTO, however, each QAP may have their own unique accreditation requirements. Further guidance is required on how the US or skills programme must be presented, assessed and/or moderated.

Entrance requirements: Each of the unit standards has the following entrance requirements:
• US 119567 – Communication and Mathematical Literacy at Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) Level 3 (Grade 5 equivalent);
• US 120496 – Communication at ABET Level 4 and Mathematical Literacy at NQF level 1 (Grade 9 equivalent). The learner
must have completed US 14656: Demonstrate an understanding of sexuality and sexually transmitted infections including HIV/Aids (NQF Level 1 | 5 Credits) prior to attending this US;
• US 376480 – Communication and Mathematical Literacy at NQF Level 2 (Grade 10 equivalent). The learner must have completed US 120496: Provide risk-based primary emergency care/first aid in the workplace and US 260597: Provide information about HIV and Aids and treatment options in community care and support situations (NQF Level 03 | 8 Credits) prior to attending this US.

Duration of training: The credits for these unit standards range from five to eight credits (one credit is equal to 10 notional hours – NH). A NH is defined as a mix of contact time, self-study, assessment, both formative and summative, and workplace experience. Thus, to obtain a valid certificate of competency as required by the GSR 3.4 certificate, time spent can range from 50 NH for the US 119567 and up to 260NH for the US 376480. Only then can the final assessment, moderation, verification, and endorsement of submissions occur. The latter two components can take up to two to six months to be concluded by the QAP.

Increase in costs and course fees: With an increase in the duration of training and the additional physical resources that are needed, extra learner support material is required, and additional administrative fees will have to be charged. This will lead to a substantial increase in course fees per delegate (estimated at 75 to 100%) and cause a loss of productivity for employers.

Szana says that he appreciates how Saiosh, SHASTAC and the council of the QCTO are handling everything. He indicated that DoEL was currently getting successful applications coming from the QCTO. Other administrative matters, such as the delay in the uploading of students to the SAQA National Learners’ Records Database (NRLD), was outside the mandate of the DoEL.

Saiosh responded to Szana, indicating that the process had been complicated – especially with the impact of  Covid-19 over the past 12 months – and therefore asking that an extension be reconsidered.

According to chairperson Graham Pearson, SHASTAC is not opposed to the move from the DoEL to QCTO. He does, however, believe that the current unit standards do not adequately cover international and current national standards. The entrance requirements and required credits are also too high and, in many cases, the quality assurance partner requires multiple unit standard courses, instead of individual ones. There is also an issue with the allocated time to provide the statement of results and uploads of the learners to the NRLD. Saiosh commends SHASTAC on the great work carried out on this matter.

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