Importance of an occupational health and safety compliance certificate

Table of Contents

What is an occupational health and safety compliance certificate? 

There is often confusion within the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) environment, regarding an Occupational Health and Safety compliance certificate and a company or departments compliance status and what is a compliance certificate? 

What is important is for organizations to become OHS Act compliant and then to maintain that compliance status moving forward. There is actually no official OHS Act or Department of Employment and Labour (DOEL) certificate of compliance template, or set compliance certificate requirement, but rather the aim to achieve an OHS compliance status. 

A compliance certificate or letter is an Absolute Health Services (AHS) initiative and is issued to our clients who we assist by managing their OHS requirements on their behalf. We then know their compliance status as we have been implementing OHS compliance over an extended period of time and we are comfortable to issue an Occupational Health and Safety compliance certificate.   

Why do you need one? 

All companies and departments need OHS Act compliance, so thereby ensuring the OHS Acts requirements have been implemented and created healthy and safe working environment. Should an emergency occur, then the organization is prepared and able to manage the emergency situation as best as possible. 

The DOEL will come and inspect any serious incidents or injuries and at that point the organization must be OHS Act compliant, or the company, or employees, managers or Chief Executive Officer may be found to be negligent and noncompliant. Should this occur then the DOEL may issue notices of noncompliance and request rectification, or in severe cases or incidents institute investigations which could lead to criminal prosecution resulting in fines and or jail time.   

If the working environment is not OHS Act compliance, then employee risks of injury are generally higher and accidents or fires may occur. By not being OHS act compliant, employers are taking a chance and exposing themselves to possible claims, criminal litigation, repudiated insurance claims, loss of assets, overtime and additional staff costs and reputational damage.  

If a company of department has an occupational health and safety compliance certificate, then the OHS service provider that issued the certificate or letter, is stating that at the time of issue there was Health and Safety Compliance within the organization.  

Where can you get a compliance certificate or letter

The Absolute Health Services (AHS) can issue occupational health and safety compliance certificates or compliance letters, when we have assisted clients in achieving OHS compliance. These OHS services typically include OHS Compliance Assessments, OHS Risk Assessments, OHS Management Service, OHS Training and OHS Equipment services.

Once the above service has been implemented, then an OHS Specialist will formulate the certificate or letter, sign and submit to management for final approval signature. Some organizations request these certificates, but have not implemented the Health and Safety Act requirements and it would then not be appropriate for an OHS specialist or professional to issue certification. 

An organization can only receive a compliance certificate once they have achieved an OHS Act compliance status.           

How long is an occupational Health and Safety compliance certificate valid for?

An Occupational Health and Safety compliance certificate and or letter is issued for a specific date. At that date the organization was compliant in terms of the OHS Acts 85 of 1993 requirements. The certificate and letter are not valid for a period of time such as 2 years, as the OHS Specialist has no actual control over what happens in an organization, should they not be actively involved in implementing and managing OHS for the organization at the time. 

The compliance certification is generally issued to the organization on an annual basis by the contracted OHS specialist service provider company as they are fully aware of their clients current Health and Safety Act compliance status.   

A client may have achieved OHS compliance, but that status may change quite rapidly and examples of this may be:

  • A change in the organizations executive or senior management structure, which or who do not support an active OHS drive, or do not offer the correct support;
  • A reduction in the annual OHS budget and thus allowing the organization to slip into non-compliance, an example would be reduced Occupational Health and Safety Representatives being trained and appointed to assist with OHS compliance related activities;
  • Allowing OHS team member certificates and appointment letter to expire.      

What are the consequences of noncompliance

Should an organization be found to be non compliant with the Health and Safety act, by an inspector, then depending on the severity of the non-compliance the inspector with issue an improvement, contravention or prohibition notice to the employer. These notices must be adhered to or the inspector may escalate the matter and stop production or prevent the company from operating, as that may endanger lives. In dangerous circumstances and organization don’t adhere to the inspector then the DOEL may consider involving the SAPS. 

The DOEL will ensure that they proceed with criminal prosecution if the contravention and neglect is of a severe nature and serious injury or damage has occurred. The criminal fine could result in a criminal record, penalty fines or even a jail sentence.

In addition to possible criminal prosecution, employers may be faced with the loss of an employee’s life and living with the guilt of not doing enough to prevent the loss of life and the devastating consequences thereof.  

It is better to achieve and obtain an Occupational Health and Safety compliance certificate and compliance statue, as opposed to to the risk and consequences of non-compliance.  

How does a company achieve OHS compliance

Contacting a reputable OHS services company, which has the necessary company accreditations such as DOEL, HWSETA, Resuscitation Council of SA, SAIOSH and other accreditations, is the advisable route to go. Don’t be tricked into talk, but rather ask for all the service providers accreditation letters. Once a provider has been chosen, listed below are some of the OHS compliance services that should be implemented, in order to obtain an Occupational Health and Safety compliance certificate:     

  • OHS Compliance Assessments – to determine the level and percentage of actual health and safety act  compliance at the time of the compliance assessment;
  • OHS Risk Assessments – to determine what all the health and safety risks are across the entire organization and how severe each risk is and what are the attached hazards. These can then be addressed and reduce the risk and create a safer and healthier working environment in the organization; 
  • OHS Management Services – To formulate an OHS plan of action and implement OHS compliance over an approved contractual period of time which is normally 12 months in duration;
  • OHS Training – Conducting SETA / SAQA accredited First aid, firefighting, evacuation planning and various health and safety courses, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Representatives
  • OHS Equipment – All the premises are then assessed according to OHS act, National Building Regulations for OHS and emergency preparedness and all non conformances are rectified. Equipment such as first aid boxes, firefighting equipment, evacuation floor plans and directional signage are installed and serviced;

Once all of the above have been implemented and the organization is compliant then an OHS compliance certificate and or letter can be produced. 

An annual OHS budget must be calculated and submitted to management for approval, to ensure that every year there are funds available for additional OHS related management services time, OHS training and other servicing requirements such as risk assessments and bi -annual evacuation drills and in so doing maintain the Health and Safety act requirements and get you Occupational Health and Safety Compliance Certificate.

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