For businesses, health and safety training is a legal OHS act requirement as it creates a healthy, safe and prepared working environment for all employees and simultaneously assists the company in achieving OHS act legal compliance.
According to Section 8 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act 85 of 1993) “General duties of employers to their employees” – all employers must, provide and maintain a safe, healthy working environment that is without risk to employees.
GetSmarter reports that “2.2 million fatal workplace accidents happen every year across the world, and 2,643 of those happen in South Africa.”
It is ultimately the responsibility of the employer which is the CEO to comply with the OHS Act and specifically section 8 “General duties of employers to their employees” and provide a healthy and safe working environment for all employees.
Health & Safety Representative – 1 Day
The Health and Safety Representative plays an important role in any company’s health and safety structure and strategy.
Incident Investigation – 1 Day
This course empowers the Incident Investigator with the necessary knowledge and skills to conduct investigations correctly and confidently.
Occupational Health & Safety Specialist- 10 Days
This popular course is an excellent course empowering competent delegates to make a positive difference and impact on any working environment.
The Occupational Health & Safety Act – 1 Day
This course is aimed at highlighting and navigating the important parts of the Act, as well as ensuring that delegates are confident with the content and implications of the Act as a whole.
Health & Safety Supervisor – 2 Days
The Health and Safety Supervisor is a two-day course and covers most of the important Occupational Health and Act 85 of 1993 (OHS) content within the different sections of the act.
16.2 Workshop – 2 Hours
To ensure adequate compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, a proactive Health and Safety (H&S) programme together with a positive safety culture needs be installed in every business
Employers must provide a safe working environment
It is essential for every company or establishment to have a dedicated health and safety team which has been trained by a competent and accredited health and safety training team, in order to protect:
- Employees and visitors from unnecessary injury, illness, disability or even death;
- The company and its staff from hazards such as fires and unexpected accidents and incidents;
- The businesses assets and the general environment;
- Workers from exposure to unnecessary chronic occupational illness;
- The business against unnecessary financial losses and insurance claims.
In a legal health and safety case, a motion was filed in South Africa for class certification for as many as 17,000 ex-gold miners who were suffering from the lung disease silicosis. The class action listed 30 gold mining companies as defendants. The plaintiffs alleged that although the companies had known of the dangers posed to the miners when they were exposed to silica dust, adequate measures to protect the miners were not forthcoming. Six companies targeted in the lawsuit had to pay up approximately $400 million.
Looking after the health and safety of the employees is not an option; it is an obligation! The more dangerous the industry, the riskier it becomes for everyone to ignore health and safety compliance and health and safety training in the company.
Each of these courses has something unique to offer and training staff in different courses can provide your company with a great foundation for a progressive and effective occupational health and safety system.
It’s important to note that there are occupational health and safety courses and training that are required to be an occupational health and safety act legally compliant and other courses that are not required but assist in boosting the effectiveness, quality and preparedness of your health and safety team, committee, processes and ultimately the wellbeing of all the employees
Certificates are issued after successful completion of a theoretical and practical competency assessment.
Courses are accredited and recognised by the various and necessary statutory bodies such as the Health and Welfare Sectional Educational Training Authority (HWSETA), Department of Labour, Resuscitation Council of South Africa (RCSA) and the American Emergency Care and Safety Institute (ECSI).
Examples of unsafe acts and conditions in the workplace include:
- A disregard by staff for health and safety, rules, regulations and legislative requirements
- Untrained health and safety team, so an unprepared working environment
- Poor maintenance of buildings, tools, vehicles, storage facilities, etc.
- Poor general housekeeping discipline and leadership
- Inadequate machine guarding, poor layout of workshops or work-yard space
- Working without approved or adequate personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Lack of training in direct job skills and other work skills
Did you know…the CEO is personally responsible?
Did you know that the CEO has the responsibility of ensuring health and safety in the workplace, and could be held personally responsible if the necessary health and safety requirements were not implemented?
Under Section 16 of the OHS Act, – “The Chief Executive Officer is charged with certain duties and responsibilities in terms of health and safety. The CEO may nominate someone within their working environment who can assist the CEO in carrying out their health and safety obligations, this is the 16.2 appointee and often this is the HR manager or a senior manager within the company.
The responsibility of OHS compliance still lies with the CEO, but the 16.2 assists the CEO under their direction and control, to implement effective health and safety systems, structures and achieve OHS Act compliance.
By sending the correct staff on health and safety courses or safety management courses, staff will be able to implement workplace health and safety measures. A critical component in achieving this is to establish an effective health and safety committee structure. The committee members must be sent on the correct health and safety training courses, such as Health and Safety Specialist or Supervisor or Safety Management course.
Your health and safety team needs to be trained by a health and safety specialist company to advise your team correctly and assist management with implementing tailored and appropriate systems that will succeed and ensure that the invested funds achieve health and safety compliance and workplace safety.
Why workplace safety is important in all industries
Many people think that occupational health and safety only applies to specific industries such as the mining and construction industry, and not the traditional administrative office space. But…the Occupational Health and Safety Act applies to all workplaces, employers and employees.
Having a proactive health and safety training program and reducing the risks and hazards for all employees, is essential for any forward-thinking and proactive business.
For “lower risk” industries, the dangers may not be as obvious, but bad ergonomics, unexpected heart attacks or other medical emergencies, accidents and incidents such as trips, slips and falls can also cause health and safety related injuries.
From a health and safety perspective, staff need to be trained on how to use all equipment and how to use it safely. Standards, policies and procedures need to be implemented to protect the company and its employees.
Compliance with the OHS Act reduces the risk of possible fines and criminal liability from the Department of Labour for non-compliance. Contact Absolute Health Services your “Health and Safety Specialists” and find out how we can assist you with your occupational health and safety courses, equipment requirements and other health and safety training and management service requirements.
Compliance also has a host of other benefits such as reduced employee absenteeism due to injury, increased employee productivity due to a positive, healthy and safe working environment.
Being OHS compliant is not an option; it’s an obligation which all CEO’s, employers and employees must enforce and implement if they want to ensure that they remain OHS act and Department of Labour compliant, as well as ensuring that their primary assets are kept healthy and safe.
Most dangerous industries
Health and Safety Executive reports that forestry is one of the most dangerous industries to work for, and in this industry, staff are 6 times more likely to be killed at work than a construction worker.
Here are some of the most dangerous industries to work for after forestry:
- Police (in 2016 and 2017, about 57 police men and women lost their lives)
- Mining (in 2016, 73 South African miners died due to their vocation)
- Commercial fishing
- Construction (according to an Occupational Care South Africa report, 2 construction workers on average, lose their lives every week)
- Trash and recycling materials
- Structural iron and steel
- Grounds maintenance
- Postmen (in 2016 and 2017, 22 postmen were bitten by dogs in the Western Cape)
- High-rise window cleaning
- Security guards
Effective health and safety policies, procedures and training measures do make a difference and reduce the possibility of workplace hazards and injuries, but when they do occur a well-trained health and safety team is able to respond and assist appropriately until the emergency services arrive on the scene.
The importance of health and safety management courses
Accredited and effective health and safety training:
- Empowers your employees with competence in effective health and safety implementation
- Reduces hazards and assists your company with avoiding or reducing the distress and liability that accidents, ill health, disease and death may cause
- Decreases the financial costs due to accidents and incidents as staff are more vigilant and aware of dangers
Health and safety training is essential across all industries, but the intensity, type and amount of training will vary according to the type and nature of the business.
For example, the risk factor for a consultancy company whose work is office based poses fewer risks than a construction company’s risk.
While office workers also require standard health and safety training, such as first aid training, firefighting training, evacuation planning and health and safety representative they won’t require other health and safety courses such as working at heights, scaffolding erector etc which are required in the construction industry.
The success of a company’s health and safety record largely depends on a positive, open and comfortable health and safety communication culture between management and employees. With management support, and training in OHS Act courses, the OHS committee and team members is the ideal platform to create, encourage and nurture this positive culture, to benefit all employees and external stakeholders and clients.
Benefits of health and safety training
All employees should attend health and safety training, from the CEO who must attend a 16.2 workshop, to the lower level employee, who must attend health and safety induction, first aid, firefighting and be nominated for health and safety representative training. The Occupational Health and Safety Act enforces this training as it will assist any company by:
- Reduced risk of noncompliance and possible lawsuits
- Reduced risk of preventable accidents, illness and death
- Reduced absenteeism from workplace injuries and illness or disease
- Enhanced reputation and can be used in marketing materials; high-quality clients are impressed when businesses make the safety of their people a priority
- Better quality control through risk and employee assessments
- Government and legally compliant
- Reduced costs of damaged equipment through regular maintenance
- Lower insurance costs due to fewer incidents
- Higher productivity with motivated employees
- Reduced unplanned worker compensation
- Reduced employee turnover due to a healthier and safer environment
- Improves employee general morale
- Helps the company to attract the best talent as their employers are focused on their employee’s wellbeing
One of the most important assets of any organisation is its employees. Without dedicated people who work hard and build the company in order to achieve its business objectives, the business might not succeed as well as it could.
A survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company was evidence that almost 40% of Chief Financial Officers rated productivity as the top benefit of a health and safety training program.
In addition, research conducted by one of the plants of Lockheed Martin found that by implementing health and safety training and procedures, employee productivity increased by 24% and factory costs were reduced by 20%. (Source)
Most businesses outsource health and safety courses to the accredited training companies such as Absolute Health Services as they know best how to assist companies to get compliant and offer quality health and safety training courses.
How to get health and safety compliant
Start by forming a health and safety committee
Any organisation that pays people to work for them, has the responsibility of keeping those people safe by adhering to the OHS Act requirements and establishing an active health and safety committee which manages, drives and ultimately ensures a safe working environment for everyone.
Workplace safety starts with senior management buy-in and commitment, then involving employee input and representation and sending specific employees to complete accredited health and safety training to up-skill and empower them.
Since workplace safety is largely to protect employees, making sure they’re empowered through training to perform the extra responsibilities, ensures that everyone is educated and on the same page with just how important occupational health and safety is.
One of your primary steps is to form a health and safety committee which drives and manages health and safety on behalf of the company and employer or CEO.
The health and safety committees are mandated by management to assist in successfully managing health and safety on behalf of the company This must be achieved through positive and constructive communication between committee members and in so doing create a positive health and safety culture within the committee and the company
Through communication and teamwork, the health and safety committee creates and establishes documents, processes, systems, mechanisms and outputs that contribute to the success of the health and safety system.
The committee is established after the health and safety supervisors and nominated representatives have been trained in health and safety courses and when the first meeting is convened. At the first health and safety committee meeting, the chairperson is nominated through a voting system, where the candidate that receives the most votes is appointed in writing as the health and safety committee chairperson for the company. The employer representation (health and safety supervisors) may not exceed employee representation ( health and safety representatives) at the quarterly committee meetings.
You can start with the following steps using two different approach methods:
- Get a health and safety compliance assessment to be completed by Absolute Health Services. This will highlight where your gaps in OHS compliance are and what is the best solution and route to follow. If your company is new to implementing this, then we recommend the following steps:
- Outsource health and safety program development and management to an accredited, professional service provider with experience, like Absolute Health Services who know what to look for and can get your business’s health and safety structures established correctly from the start and be health and safety compliant.
- Once you’ve identified your team (the committee, plus the health and safety officer or, supervisors and the health and safety representatives), send them on accredited and quality health and safety training. This includes Health and Safety Supervisor and Health and Safety Representative training and the OHS team can also attend First Aid training, Fire Fighting training and Evacuation Planning training.
- Getting help via outsourced consultation is a good idea, because you’ll need ongoing health and safety risk assessments, correspondence and management and assistance with your evacuation drills (Absolute Health can help with this).
- You’ll need to create health and safety policies, procedures and standards for the OHS committee to implement such as appointment letters and organograms and checklists.
- Ongoing attention for the repairing or replacement of any faulty office equipment, damaged building structure and unsafe working environment through health and safety representative training and quarterly inspections.
- Set up an emergency plan that includes regular evacuation drills, purchasing the correct equipment such as first aid boxes, fire extinguishers, evacuation floor plans, and so on. (Absolute Health can help with this too).
- Set realistic and achievable health and safety targets and budgets every year with the responsible people such as operations, HR and finance management staff.
- The Department of Labour (DoL) will request that you produce valid and accredited First Aid Level 1 certificate so you must train with a DoL accredited first aid, training provider.
- The DOL will also request that you have health and safety representatives trained and appointed in the workplace to assist the health and safety committee and management in ensuring workplace safety.
- You will need to produce a certificate of compliance to show that all your firefighting equipment has been serviced by a SABS accredited company such as Absolute Health Services and that your staff have been trained in a firefighting course.
- Occupational Health and Safety Act compliance letter or certificate from a professional and accredited health and safety company.
What to look for in health and safety training providers
As with any service provider, some companies are better than others, for many different reasons. When the wrong provider is chosen, your business is open to:
- Being deemed non-compliant by the DoL because of incorrect advice and guidance
- If the provider is not accredited with the right training authorities, you may lose money because you’ll need to change providers and still not be deemed compliant even though you’ve invested in training and setting up an entire program already
- Potential lawsuits if the health and safety training provider does not have the correct accreditations and someone is injured in the workplace.
- Clients require companies that offer services to them to be Occupational Health and Safety act compliant and they need to prove this, or the service provider or supplier may not get the work or possible tender
When conducting your research as to which provider is the best to use, follow these professional tips from Absolute Health:
Is the supplier accredited?
It is imperative that the providers of health and safety courses are accredited with the necessary training authorities such as:
- HWSETA (Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority) accreditation is critical for all your health and safety training courses
- Current Department of Labour accreditation to train first aid is also critical
- Resuscitation council of Southern Africa for CPR training
Using a health and safety training provider that is not HWSETA or DoL accredited is a waste of company funds as the Dol will not recognise the training and you will be deemed to be non-compliant.
Do they have a good track record?
Ensure that your service provider for health and safety courses has trained and provided training for large and reputable companies.
This is a very good indication that you can probably trust this training provider. You should, however, ask for reference letters from the training providers clients.
It’s always a good idea to get recommendations from other companies who have trained before you, so be sure to look for reviews and testimonials.
Can they tailor health and safety courses to your needs?
Some company’s health and safety structural and training requirements are different so you’ll need a training provider that will be able to assess your company’s workplace requirements and advise on how best to achieve OHS compliance and provide the necessary training and certificates.
Do they offer a holistic approach?
Over and above providing the necessary accredited health and safety courses for your company, is your supplier assisting you to remain and maintain health and safety compliance? Or if you have not yet chosen a supplier, find out what additional services they are able to offer to achieve and maintain your compliance status
Are they able to provide the necessary health and safety equipment supply such as evacuation plans, firefighting equipment installations and servicing, first aid kits and directional signage?
Remember that just because you have completed the necessary health and safety training courses, doesn’t mean that your OHS requirements and obligations stop there. You still need to implement the OHS committee, appoint ohs team members, perform health and safety risk assessments, implement workplace safety systems, standards, policies and procedures.