According to the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act 101 of 1965, no person is allowed to dispense a medicine (E.g. headache tablets, cough mixture or any other oral medicine) unless authorised to do so under the Pharmacy Act.

Section 3 of the General Safety Regulations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), specifies the minimum contents of a first aid box, and there are no medications listed therein. This is because only medically registered people (E.g. pharmacists, doctors and professional nurses with a dispensing licence) can administer medication in a work environment.

Government Regulation 7 of the Draft General Health & Safety Regulations states that the employer must ensure that only articles and equipment as referenced in Section 3 of the above Act or other similar equipment or medicine is kept in the first aid box or boxes.

No person is allowed to dispense a medicine (E.g. headache tablets, cough mixture or any other oral medicine) unless authorised to do so under the Pharmacy Act (53 of 1974) as amended, and the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act (101 of 1965) as amended.

As an employer is not a medically registered person, the employer will not be aware of the medical history of an employee and whether the employee will react adversely to a particular medication or not. Dispensing a simple headache tablet poses a risk to the employer. For example, a Panado can cause severe sickness to an individual. A total dose of 2gm of paracetamol, the main ingredient of Panado and many headache and flu remedies, can cause fatal liver damage.

For this reason employers’ must ensure that their respective first aid boxes only contain those items stipulated under the Government Regulation 7 of the Draft General Health & Safety Regulations.