First Aid on farms
In places where moving parts, chemicals, animals and human limbs meet, accidents often happen. Swift handling of injuries gives the patient a better chance of full recovery so the training of staff and availability of first aid on farms are essential.
South African law requires that a staff member be trained in first aid. This can not only improve the outcome of the injury but is required by law. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), a person with a valid first-aid certificate is needed for more than ten employees and up to 50 employees.
Preparedness and Training
The regulation states that first aid facilities must be provided where more than five employees are employed. The recommendation is a regulation 7 first aid kit. 'I recommend extras such as long and short splints, a neck brace, enough burns dressings and disinfectant,' says Saroj Rajoo regional director of St John, Western Cape.
For farms, the very practical St John First Aid level one course is advised. The two-day course costs R1,620 pp (April 2022).
Most common injuries
A spectacular variety of injuries can occur on a farm. From tractor accidents and entanglements to cuts and falls.
Unloading grain bins and silos carry a risk of suffocation as a strong vacuum forms at the top of the grain as it is drained.
Burns caused by chemicals, electricity and fires cause organ and tissue damage and loss of sensation and movement.
Animals can kick, bite and trample which may lead to infections of wounds if not properly cleaned.
Other medical emergencies may include anaphylaxis (allergic reactions due to bee stings, food allergies etc), choking, frostbite and snake bites.
In case of injuries
In case of open wounds, employees must report incidents as soon as possible. Work may not continue until the wound has been cleaned and bandaged.
In case of bleeding, stop the flow with a clean piece of fabric.
If a broken bone is suspected, do not move the patient unless the limb is properly immobilised.
Severed limbs may be wrapped in a clean cloth and put in ice. Never freeze the item.
Keep in mind that electrical burns often damage internal tissues and can be more serious than visible wounds. In case of all burns, remove the patient from the source of the burn (chemical, fire, cable) before treatment.
A minor incident where no professional medical attention is required need not be reported. However, it is good managerial practice to keep a record of incidents, advises Saroj
However, injuries which require professional medical attention must be reported to the compensation commissioner (Department of Labour). Employers complete Part A of the WC12 form. Part B must be handed to the employee to give to the doctor or hospital.
Injuries can also be reported to the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA) to provide compensation for disablement caused by injuries. Employers contribute (compulsory) to this fund from where these benefits are paid.
For information on training, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information above is educational only and should not be construed as medical advice.
In a medical emergency in South Africa, call 10111 or 10177. Netcare's emergency contact number is 082 9111 while ER24 is available at 084 124.
Author Marinda Louw Coetzee, Agri journalist