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Health and Safety

Employer Cares

Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA) makes it obligatory for the employer to provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of the workers.

It is obligatory for an employer to provide and maintain plant and systems and procedures of work that are safe and without risk to workers' health. Employer must ensure safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the production, processing, use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances. Provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision of workers is very crucial to maintain safe and healthy workplace. Precautionary measure should be taken to eliminate or mitigate any hazards or potential hazard to the safety and health of workers.

Preventive and protective measures should be taken after proper risk assessment (at least once a year) to ensure that all chemicals, machinery, equipment, tools and processes are safe and without risk to health and comply with the requirements of safety and health provisions in this Act.

A worker must take care of health and safety of himself and of others who may be affected by his acts or omissions. Worker must use the safety equipments with care and act according to the prescribed instructions to preserve his health and protect him from getting injured. Worker must not involve in any action that tends to obstruct implementation of the instructions or the misuse or causing of damage or loss to the means provided for the protection, safety and health of other workers. He/she must report the employer or health and safety representative about any unhealthy or unsafe situation.

Employer may not permit workers to work unless all precautionary measures to protect health and safety of all workers have been taken.

Source: §8-15 of the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA)

Free Protection

The Occupational Health and Safety Act require employers to provide free protective equipment (PPE) to workers involved in hazardous work.

OHSA requires employers to take such steps, which will mitigate any potential hazard to the health and safety of workers before resorting to personal protective equipment. Employers are required to provide protective equipment free of cost to the workers and cannot make any deduction from any employee's remuneration or require or permit any employee to make any payment to him or any other person for provision of such equipment.

Source: § 8 & 23of the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA)

Training

In accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2003, it is the responsibility of an employer to provide instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure health and safety at work of his workers. Every worker is to be made conversant with (trained on) the work he is supposed to perform, any article or substance he has to produce, process or transport and any plant/machinery he is supposed to operate.  Employer has to ensure that work is performed and that plant or machinery is used under the general supervision of a person trained to understand the hazards associated with it and who have the authority to ensure that precautionary measures taken by the employer are implemented.

Source: §8 of the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA)

Labour Inspection System

OHSA provides for a vibrant labour inspection system and is quite in line with the requirements of ILO Convention 081 although South Africa has not ratified the Convention.

The department of labour is mainly responsible for labour and employment issues. It is divided into 4 branches, which are further divided into different Directorates. The Directorate of Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) is responsible for ensuring compliance with legislation, protecting vulnerable workers, promoting equity and skills development in the workplace. The Office of the Inspector General comprises three teams, Occupational Safety and Health, Minimum Labour Conditions, and Employment Equity, each of which is responsible for labour inspection matters within its jurisdiction.

Labour inspectors are empowered to issue compliance orders against employers who do not comply with statutory obligations. Compliance orders that are not obeyed can be made into and enforced as orders of the Labour Court. Financial penalties may be imposed on employers who do not comply with these obligations. Labour inspector may, in writing, prohibit an employer from continuing or commencing with an act which in the opinion of an inspector threatens or is likely to threaten the health or safety of any person.

The national legislation provides inspectors the powers to enter the work premises at any reasonable time without prior notice; interview anyone; ask for a book, record or other documents to examine and ask for their explanation; inspect any article, substance, plant or machinery and can take sample for examination or analysis.

If an occupier or his representatives do not facilitate the inspector and obstruct the execution of his duties, he/she commits an offence and is liable to a fine up to R50,000 or to imprisonment up to one year or to both.

Source: § 27-30 & 38 of the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA)

Regulations on Health and Safety

  • Occupational Health & Safety Act, 1993