Section 8(1) of the South African Occupational Health and Safety Act (85 of 1993) clearly states that “every employer shall provide and maintain, as far as reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risk to the Health and Safety of his/her employees.” However, people perceive risks differently.
Health and Safety Risk Assessments are one of the essentials to ensuring employers and employees return home healthy and safe after work everyday. A risk assessment is simply a careful examination of what could cause harm to employees in your workplace, it also helps decide what precautions, training and skills need to be implemented to reduce workplace incidents, injuries and fatalities. Identifying risks does take a lot of time and effort, but when done properly, it can save you time, money and most importantly, lives and limbs of employees. Health and Safety Representatives will physically have to walk through and assess the workplace to determine what is considered as risks, they will also talk to employees to find what problems are usually encountered on a daily basis, but often, employees are unaware or uninterested in these consequences.
The following principles should be considered:
- Where possible, choose a less risky option (For example, Choose a less hazardous chemical over the one you may currently be using)
- Prevent access to hazards by putting safeguards in place
- Re-organize the workspace to avoid exposure to hazards
- Issue PPE and create strict rules to make sure employees wear the applicable PPE to their jobs
- Make sure staff are trained and prepared for emergency situations
One of the first questions an Inspector from the Department of Labour will ask is whether or not a proper risk assessment has been conducted in your workplace. The risk assessment you present to the inspector should include a list of any possible risks for injuries or incidents that could affect staff or productivity in the workplace and the control measures you already have in place as well as those that still need to be implemented. Inspectors from the Department of Labour will not tolerate any non-compliance and the consequences can be dire should something happen due to non-compliance, R50 000 and one year imprisonment for employees and R100 000 with 2 years imprisonment for employers. It is important to remember that employees have the right to refuse work should they deem it unsafe.
The following Laws have been drafted in the interest of South African Employees:
- The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA)
- The Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA)
- The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA)
- The Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act (ODMWA)
- The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA)
- The Labour Relations Act (LRA)
Click here to view these Acts
The occupational Health and Safety Act dictates that a risk assessment should be conducted annually unless:
- An incident occurs, in which case the risk assessment should be redone to assess why the incident occurred
- Significant changes have been made to the work environment which introduce new and different risks that need to be listed in the risk assessment.
Keeping your workplace legally Health and Safety Compliant may seem like a daunting task. At MAKROSAFE, we have an experienced team of OHS experts available to assist in keeping your company Health and Safety Compliant according to South African Health and Safety Acts and Regulations.
Contact us today to talk to a OHS expert in your Industry!
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