MEDICINES AND THE FIRST-AID BOX CONTENTS
There is an ongoing debate about stocking and dispensing certain medicines, like headache tablets, etc from an Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSAct) provided First-Aid Box.
The OHSAct General safety Regulations section 3 and the attached Annexure in this regard, specifies the minimum contents of a first-aid box, and there are absolutely no medications listed. This is because a first-aider’s golden rule is do not give anything by mouth, but seek and get the patient to medical attention as quick as possible.
The dispensing of medicines and medications is legislated and regulated under the Medicines and Related substances Control Act (Act 101 of 1965), as amended by the 1997 Medicines and related Substances Control Amendment Act. Of interest is section 22A, entitled the Control of Medicines and Scheduled Substances, which prescribes that no person shall sell, have in his/her possession or manufacture any medicine or scheduled substance, except in accordance with the prescribed conditions of this legislation.
These conditions are: (ie. Section 22A (3 to 16)
- Any schedule 0 substance (eg. Aspirin tablets) may be sold in any open shop.
- Any schedule 1 substance (eg. Paracetamol tablets) may not be sold by any person other than by a person who is registered under the Health Professions Act, a pharmacist, a medical practitioner, a nurse or similar prescriber person.
- Any schedule 2 to 6 substance (eg. Ibuprofen tablets, a schedule S2 substance) may not be sold by any person other than by a person who is registered under the Health Professions Act, a pharmacist, a medical practitioner, a nurse or similar prescriber person and that every such sale shall be recorded in a prescribed record that must be held.
- Any Schedule 7 substance can only be provided to a medical practitioner through the Director-General, who prescribes acquisition and usage conditions.
Section 22A (16a) permits any person to possess a Schedule 0, Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 substance for medicinal purposes and section 22A (16b) allows the possession of any Schedule 3 to 7 substance provided the medication was provided under a prescription issued by an authorised prescriber, a medical practitioner, registered person, etc.
Section 22A (16c) states that any medicine or scheduled substance can be possessed by a medical practitioner, a nurse or any other person who is registered under the Health Professions Act, 1974, for the purpose of administering it in accordance with his/her scope of practice. There is no clause allowing non-registered persons to administer medicine or scheduled substances for medical purposes.
This means that:
- no medicine substances should be provided in an OHSAct provided first-aid box and that;
- only properly authorised prescriber people (medically registered people) may administer medication in a work environment. Self-medication is acceptable.
Source: 2008 DIRECTORY OF SAFETY PRODUCTS AND SERVICES