Employees have the right to a healthy and safe workplace free of hazards and risks that may harm them during the course of their employment. The occupational health and safety act was established by the government and implemented and enforced by the Department of Labour.
The Department of Labour is involved in setting national health and safety standards, providing information to employers and employees, visiting as many companies as possible and generally making sure that our workforce stays as healthy and safe as possible.
Having a thorough understanding of the occupational health and safety act is important to anyone in charge of managing employees and the workforce, especially CEOs. At Absolute Health Services, we offer a health and safety officer course, a Health and Safety Supervisor course and a 16.2 workshop which all enable and offer business owners and senior higher management a greater understanding of the occupational health and safety act and how to implement the act’s requirements.
The Hidden Benefits of Occupational Health and Safety in The Workplace
Occupational health and safety is an employee right and something that should be put in place to ensure the work environment is one free from stressors like these. According to the Workplace Compliance Safety blog post, incorporating a proper occupational health and safety program in the workplace brings about a host of benefits such as:
- Improved productivity
- By showing commitment to the safety of your employees, you also create a culture of dedication in employees.
- Decreases in absenteeism
- Workers are a lot safer and productive in environments where their employers have prioritised their occupational health and safety, thereby reducing the need for absenteeism in the workplace.
- Work premises are kept to a higher standard
- Because of the specific standards required in order to maintain occupational health and safety compliance, the premises of work are much safer and cleaner.
- Safe work environment = happier employees
- Without having to worry about the possible dangers of working in unsafe environments, employees can actually perform well at their jobs and be happier without this stressor in their lives.
- Employee insurance claims decrease
- By becoming less of a risk to the occupational health and safety of your employees, the number of claims decreases as a result.
- Protecting and investing in the company’s most important asset – it’s employees
- The people working for your company are by far the most important asset you have, so by investing in their occupational health and safety you’ll be protecting your best asset
- Winning and retaining business/clients
- Being compliant with the occupational health and safety act is often a prerequisite when conducting business with clients with clear procurement guidelines and an ambition to only do business with companies that value the safety of their employees
- Safe work environment enhances your brand value
- Being known for encouraging and promoting safe work environments for your employees is a great transparent way of improving your brand value as a result
Occupational Health and Safety Act – Regulation Scope
The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act 85 of 1993 is the law that aims to protect the well-being of all workers, visitors and clients in the workplace. The OHS Act is enforced by the Department of Labour, whose inspectors may:
- Enter any workplace without prior notice;
- Request any document;
- Inspect any condition, process, plant or article;
- Take samples or seize any article;
- Question or summon any person within the workplace.
South Africa has the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, which has 50 sections (apply to everyone) and 22 regulations. Some regulations are general and apply to everyone, such as:
- Administration regulations;
- Facilities regulations;
- Environmental regulations.
What Responsibilities do Employers Have?
It is the duty of the employer to ensure that there is no risk to the health and safety of the employees working for them. As we’ve already looked at what some of these risks are, we can see how comprehensive the occupational health and safety act actually is and why it’s important to make sure you’re capable of handling this as an employee by doing the safety officer course.
Being able to identify potential threats in the workplace and take the correct steps to resolve the threats, as well as performing regular safety checks to ensure everything is in order is all part of the higher responsibility that CEOs and higher management need to be aware and prepared for.
A well-planned Health and Safety programme will improve the working conditions, decrease hazardous situations and in turn, will reduce the risk profile of the organisation. Listed below are some guidelines which will assist you and can be taken into consideration when planning your Health and Safety programme:
- Source an accredited, professional and reliable Health and Safety service provider, like Absolute Health Services, who will assist you in implementing your Health and Safety plan or program;
- Send your Health and Safety Officer, Supervisors and Representatives on accredited and quality Health and Safety training. Absolute Health Services is fully accredited with the Health and Welfare SETA and the Department of Labour and other statutory and accrediting bodies;
- Your Health and Safety compliance training also consists of First Aid training, Fire Fighting training and Evacuation Planning training;
- Creation of a Health and Safety Committee to manage your companies Health and Safety program efficiently. The Health and Safety Officer, Supervisors and Representatives and First Aid, Fire Fighting and Evacuation Planning team leaders must also form part of the Health and Safety committee;
- Sourcing a H&S service provider which will offer consultative and ongoing Health and Safety Risk Assessment services and supply a corresponding H&S management plan to remove or mitigate the identified risks. Absolute Health Services has a team of Health and Safety Specialists, which are registered with SAIOSH and specialize in conducting company risk assessments and assisting in implementing OHS Act compliance;
- Regular routine servicing and maintenance of machines, vehicles and electrical appliances;
- Repair or replacement of any faulty equipment or structural building damage or faults;
- Correct use and maintenance of Personal Protective Equipment at all times;
- Create a working environment that has the applicable and enough H&S and emergency preparedness equipment in the workplace, such as first aid boxes, firefighting extinguishers, evacuation plans etc. Absolute Health Services is able to supply, install and service a full range of Health and Safety Equipment;
- Meet with the Health and Safety Officer, Supervisors and Representatives and set realistic and achievable H&S targets every year.
The successful implementation and management of a Health and Safety system is often quite challenging and requires a Health and Safety team, which is prepared to mould and develop the H&S structure and system to suit their specific work environment, structural layout and needs simultaneously, over time in order to succeed. Absolute Health Services is your ideal H&S specialist service provider to partner with and ensure that your working environment is compliant, safe and prepared.
What Happens to Companies That Are Non-Compliant?
Non-compliance with the OHS Act could result in receiving a contravention, improvement or prohibition notice from one of the Department of Labour inspectors and if not rectified in a specific period of time could result in a fine of R25,000 to R50,000 for each contravention. If someone is injured and OHS non-compliance is present, then the responsible individual /s could be held criminally liable and receive a jail sentence as well as a fine.
Do you need a to occupational health and safety compliance services? Take our Speedy Assessment to see where you are and what you need in minutes.