Regulatory and enforcement policies

The OHS Act is a self-regulatory act. Due to the fact that it would be very difficult for the Department of Labour to police and enforce the Act at all the different organizations in our country, the law makes it the duty of both the employer and the employees to take responsibility for health and safety issues in their own workplace. This is what the term “self-regulatory” means.

The law achieves this self-regulation by requiring organizations to develop effective workplace policies (section 7) and procedures. The law also requires commitment from both parties (employer and employee) to ensure that these policies (e.g. Health and Safety policy, Rules for visitors and contractors, Alcohol and Substance policy, Dreaded diseases policy) and procedures are applied. The method used for achieving this is the health and safety committees and the health and safety representatives.


The OHS Act is the only Labour Act that regards the consequences of non-compliance as a criminal offence (section 38-presumption in law). This means that in situations that result in serious injuries or death, both the employer and employee can be criminally prosecuted if they did not comply with the OHS Act.

Responsibilities of all involved

The OHS Act gives workers the right to a healthy and safe work environment. It tells management to appoint safety representatives and safety committees in the workplace. It also regulates facilities, the general working environment, training, protective clothing, machinery, stacking and packing, ladders, fire, ventilation, lighting, temperature, noise and asbestos. However, if the employee does not do his / her part with regards to applying safe work principles, safety will not become part of an organization's culture.

A closer look at the relevant sections of the Occupational Health and Safety Act

    Health and Safety Policy - Section 7

  1. The Chief Inspector may direct
  • Any employer in writing, and
  • Any category of employers by notice in the Gazette, to prepare a written policy concerning the health and safety of his employees at work, including a description of his organization and the arrangements for carrying out and reviewing that policy.
  • This health and safety policy shall be displayed prominently by the employer once signed by the Chief Executive Officer.
  • General duties of manufacturers and others regarding articles and substances for use at work - Section 10

    1. Articles:
    2. Any person who designs, manufactures, imports, sells or supplies any article for use at work, shall ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that the article is safe and without risks to health when properly used and that it complies with all prescribed requirements.

    3. Erects:
    4. Any person who erects or installs any article for use at work on or in any premises shall ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that nothing about the manner in which it is erected or installed makes it unsafe or creates a risk to health when properly used.

    5. Substances:
    • Any person who manufactures, imports, sells or supplies any substance for use at work shall ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that the substance is safe and without risks to health when properly used; and take such steps as may be necessary to ensure that information is available with regard to:
      • The use of the substance at work;
      • The risks to health and safety associated with it;
      • The conditions necessary to ensure that the substance will be safe and without risks to health when properly used, and
      • The procedures to be followed in the case of an accident involving such substance.
    • An undertaking in writing by the recipient or consumer of an article or substance to take specified steps to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that the article or substance will comply with all prescribed requirements and will be safe and without risks to health when properly used, will relieve the supplier from the duty imposed upon him by this section to such an extent as may be reasonable having regard to the terms of the undertaking.