The OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT 85 OF 1993 enforces that the employer must provide a safe and healthy working environment. The employer must also send employees for Health and Safety training. Absolute Health Services provides accredited health and safety training courses that teach about health and safety hazards in different workplace environments; how to identify a hazardous workplace; how to conduct risk assessments as well as control measures that must be put in place to minimise, mitigate or eliminate a hazardous workplace.
What is Workplace Safety?
Workplace safety is the working conditions relating to the wellbeing, physical health and safety during production and the safe operation of tools and machinery. It can include having a hazardous workplace, environmental hazards and unsafe working conditions, or processes. Safety measures protect employees. Protected employees result in minimal to no incidents which in turn results in increased productivity with less expenses with regards to the investigation of incidents, thereby keeping the safe working environment a productive one.
What is a Hazardous Workplace?
A hazard is anything that may cause harm, such as chemicals, electricity, slippery floors, working on ladders, etc.
A hazardous workplace or occupational hazards are hazards experienced in the workplace. There are many types of hazards including physical, biological, ergonomic, psycho-social and environmental hazards.
Examples of physical hazards:
- Uneven floors
Examples of chemical hazards:
Examples of biological hazards:
- Medical waste
Examples of ergonomic hazards:
- Manual handling
- Repetitive movement
- Poor design
- Restricted space
Examples of psycho-social hazards:
- Shift work
- Peer pressure
- Drugs misuse
Examples of environmental hazards:
- Contaminated air
- Sludge and solid waste
- Polluted water
- Noise pollution
How to manage a hazardous workplace:
- Eliminate the hazard
- Reduce the risk
- Isolate the people from hazard
- Control the extent of exposure
- PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
What is a risk?
It is the chance – how high or low – that somebody/equipment/environment or premises could be harmed/injured or damaged by a hazard, together with an indication of how serious that harm could be.
What is a risk assessment?
It is about identifying sensible measures to control the risks. Identify how incidents, accidents and ill health could occur and concentrate on real risks, those that are most likely and which will cause the most harm.
There are three main types of risk assessments, each with different functions:
1) Baseline Risk Assessment – i.e, this should be performed to obtain a benchmark of the type and size of potential hazards that could have a potential impact on the whole organisation. It should identify the major and significant risks, prioritise these risks and evaluate the effectiveness of current systems of risk control. Baseline risk assessment can be defined as the primary or initial, broad-based risk assessment of an organisation. The baseline risk assessment is used to determine a risk profile for the organisation.
2) Issue-Based Risk Assessment – i.e, this normally focuses on operational activities, processes, and system-based business functions. It focuses on the identification of risks within a certain task, process or activity and is usually associated with the management of change. Risk profiles from the baseline HIRA form the basis for establishing issue based HIRA’s.
3) Continuous Risk Assessment – i.e, this should be conducted on regular basis in the work environment. Continuous risk assessment is a powerful and important tool that should form an integral part of the SHE management system, day-to-day hazard and risk awareness and immediate risk control and mitigation.
The health & safety courses offered at Absolute Health Services that will assist employers in preventing a hazardous workplace are Health & Safety Representative, Health & Safety Risk Assessment and Health & Safety Supervisor.
- The Health and Safety Representative course is a one-day course. In terms of section 17 of the Act, the employees must elect representation of who will be sent for training so that they are enabled to know what is expected of them. One of the functions of Health and Safety Representative is to identify a hazardous workplace and to identify major incidents that can occure at the workplace. Identification of hazards must be conducted during the normal working hours to ensure that the working environment stays safe for everyone.
- The Health and Safety Risk Assessment (HIRA) course is also a one-day course which enables the risk assessor to perform workplace risk assessments so that the workplace is safe. The employer must eliminate or mitigate any hazard or potential hazard to the safety or health of employees. The employer must establish what hazards to the health or safety of persons are attached to any work and establish what precautionary measures should be taken with respect to such work.
- The Health and Safety Supervisor course is a two-day course. It enables the supervisor to be able to ensure a safe working environment without risks to the employees and anyone within the working environment. The supervisor is an employer representative for health and safety issues and will be able to provide information, training, and instruction as well as supervision to avoid a hazardous workplace and to ensure the safety of everyone in the working environment.