Health and Safety and Environment Compliance
What is the meaning of Compliance?
In general, compliance means conforming to a rule, such as a specification, policy, standard or law. Regulatory compliance describes the goal that organizations aspire to achieve in their efforts to ensure that they are aware of and take steps to comply with relevant laws, policies, and regulations.
Definition of Compliance:
Compliance is a prevalent business concern, partly because of an ever-increasing number of regulations that require companies to be vigilant about maintaining a full understanding of their regulatory compliance requirements.
Where do Compliance come from?
In this case our regulator is according to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. (Act 85 of 1993)
It was passed by law that Health & Safety compliance must be adhered to in the workplace and is a self regulatory law.
Do we Complain about Health and Safety and Environmental issues?
“Yes” , is my answer “Extensively” Thus the need to explain compliance, so we can understand it. It seems cumbersome at first and as soon as we start looking into Health , Safety and Environmental Compliance we can only see that it is to our own benefit. As a natural instinct a mother protects her young in nature, as do humans. So why do we fight such a natural emotion - in the workplace. We need to create a safe environment for our fellow humans to spend most of their day in, thus protecting them. A safe worker tends to give more productivity.
The problem is that, there is normally a cost involved in keeping our workers/employees safe and that is where businesses tend to bring it into the “Complain “ context. Complaining about it will not save lives nor protect us. So let us do it correctly from the start. The OHS Act makes it easy to follow. There are guidelines put in place “extensively” so we can follow them and improve our “comply-ing” to them, and so protect our work environment and our co workers. This also means that we are protected by law against accidents.
We keep healthy by ruling out Health Hazards. General housekeeping is necessary to prevent sickness in the workplace. So we keep our Kitchens and Bathrooms clean. Prevent workers from unnecessary contact from contaminants and biological hazards and most importantly teach them how to do it for themselves by making them aware of it. Indicating dangerous areas where vehicles or machinery are operated and for instance electrical hazards are helpful with easy to read pictures signs to - keep away or to be aware of dangerous or to know how to work a fire extinguisher and to provide one in the instance that a fire breaks out. Health is our number one priority.
The environment we work in has certain qualities. We keep air conditioners clean and serviced every three months to prevent harmful bacteria growing and affecting health. Keep work areas clear from clutter and free from Dust or harmful chemical particles in the air or in the water. Gasses and other harmful substances used in processing should be treated / filter before exiting into the air or water or disposed of correctly and responsibly, taking care not to harm the environment.
Compliance officers are well informed in the everyday practices of conducting work in a sensible safe manner. Compliance officers or also known as health and safety representatives have to undergo training to be informed and know the regulatory laws and municipal bylaws. There are these rules to adhere to and put some measures into place and that determines how compliant you are as a company or Non-Compliant, to the Health & Safety Act.
Do Non-Compliance hold any benefits to us?
As a matter of fact, it does not hold any benefits to be non-compliant. We save lives in the workplace and do not let uninformed workers perform irresponsible acts which is one of the highest causes of accidents today in the world. We care about staying healthy so we stay healthy and take less sick days. We can have costly fines from the Health & Safety Inspectors and is often less expensive to adhere to health & safety standards than paying the fine. Thousands of rands of fines can be the bank breaker in a business, but we can put just a few standards in place to avoid these massive fines and legal costs. Why take the risk? Would you pay exorbitant legal costs or like to pay enormous medical bills and explain to the families that an accident could have been prevented if we had just done this or that. I’m sure the answer is great big capital letter “NO” in inverted commas!
A compliance certificate can be obtained for being Health, Safety and Environment Safe and this protects us as a company. Health & safety in the workplace revolves around identifying and controlling possible hazards that could cause an incident or harm to individuals. There are various ways to determine how healthy and safe your workplace is. Most can be done by those involved in the company's health & safety committee. Having it audited by specialists at least once a year, also updates you about your technical and moral compliance.
A Health & Safety Compliance Audit confirms your legal compliance.The South African Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act 85 of 1993) leaves little to wonder in terms of compliance of the workplace. Section 8.2 of the Act clearly states that every employer has to provide and maintain systems of work, plant and machinery that are safe and without risk to health'. Most employers rely on baseline risk assessments, issue-based risk assessments or continuous risk assessments, task based risk assessment to determine their compliance to section 8.2 of the Act. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, rigorously sticking to Safe Operating Procedures (SOP's) and risk assessment checklists can lead to ignoring a changing society or new technologies. Especially the latter, could save company's significant amounts of money and / or could improve health and safety much faster.
Where risk assessments only consider previous risk assessments reports, the company's Occupational Health Safety and Environmental policy, hazard reports, minutes of the health and safety committee, SOP's and other relevant documentation, a compliance audit will benchmark you status to sources over and above what is available in the workplace. Compliance Officers also consider good practices in the industry, additional by-laws and legislation as well as international benchmarks to determine if your company is compliant.
In the process of auditing your company, the consultants / compliance officer make use of a rigorous approach that includes identifying any possible risks, analysing and evaluating them, suggesting improvements that can be made while respecting the budget, time and resources available and monitoring the effect these mitigating measures have. They also ensure that, or advice on ways to ensure that all improvements are communicated to all parties involved. The knowledge and experience Health and Safety consultants have gained over many years in conducting compliance audits are valuable.
The South African Occupational Health and Safety Act is very clear about who should be protected. Section 39.1 of the Act reminds employers that 'whenever in any legal proceedings in terms of this Act is proved that any person was present on or in any premises, that person shall, unless the contrary is proved, be presumed to be an employee'. This leaves no doubt that even clients, visitors, suppliers or any other person on your premises is the responsibility of the employer in terms of health and safety. They will know their rights when their health and safety is jeopardized. Do the clever thing and have your company audited regularly by an outside, but experienced service provider in terms of health & safety.
You have the right to know how well your status is in terms of health & safety compliance. Only once you know your status you will succeed in either putting measures in place to tolerate the risk, transfer it, terminate it or treat it.
Why do we need a Health, Safety and Environment Compliance Certificate?
A Health & Safety Compliance Certificate is a certifying document that asserts and approves a workplace as legally compliant with the Occupational Health and Safety Act requirements. This certificate is proof that a company has met and passed all legal standards required by law to create a healthy and safe working environment for all.
A Health & Safety Compliance Certificate is issued after a workplace has been subjected to a Health & Safety Compliance Audit. The Compliance Audit is usually done by means of a complete workplace risk assessment. Health and safety audits are conducted by auditors. These auditors should be from health and safety practicing institutes which are registered with relevant national boards. The auditors will be on the lookout for hazards and any workplace risks that may jeopardize the health & safety of anybody who works or uses the premises. Safety control measures will also be assessed for efficiency. After premises have satisfactory been found to be without any risk, potential future risk, hazards and meets all relevant standards, they can be declared legally compliant and safe to continue operating. The company can then be issued with a Health and Safety Compliance Certificate. A Compliance certificate is not required by law but some health & safety consultants companies issue their clients with this certificate.
A Health & Safety Compliance Certificate is valid for a year. Every year, companies should have another audit conducted at their premises as per legal stipulations. A year is a long time and new hazards may occur due to ever-changing workplace. It is essential that yearly assessments are conducted.
Both the company/employer and the employees will benefit greatly from having an experienced OHS auditor conduct a Health and Safety Compliance Audit. We will ensure that you receive assistance to align Health and Safety in the workplace with your company's goals.
A Compliance Manager
The compliance manager will do a risk assessment regularly to asses on an ongoing basis the hazards that may cause harm.
A Risk Assessment is the systematic identification of undesired events and their causes and analyzing their likelihood and potential consequences in order to make a valued judgement as to their acceptability and tolerability. A Health and Safety Risk Assessment is the most important part of the Occupational Health & Safety Act, no company can be compliant to the OHS Act if this is not conducted and monitored on a regular basis. Our Risk Assessments help you Identify, Manage and Control risks and hazards in your workplace to ensure your employees are safe.
Risk assessors work according to well-defined protocols to examine risk in the workplace and to identify any issues that could cause harm to employees or the organisation at large.
These assessors identify all activities that have to be executed to control each risk. As risk is categorised as being High, Medium or Low risks, we suggest control measures they consider to be best to maintain workplaces in the lowest risks categories possible.
All risk assessors are well-trained and rely on vast experience. They continuously update their knowledge and skills and closely monitor trends and developments in the industry. This puts them in the best position to identify possible risk at an early stage and to advise companies about control measures that should be considered to nullify or minimise risk to acceptable levels.
The control of incidents and success of control measures is monitored and re-evaluated every three months and clients are briefed continuously to ensure they are aware of the risk pertaining to their workplace. These are guidelines set out in the Occupational Health and Safety Policy
The Compliance Policy
Also referred to as the Health and Safety Policy is the guidelines of each company to achieve compliance. A plan set out by the Compliance Manager and documented agreed upon by the Compliance Committee.
Ensuring Health & Safety in the workplace is a never-ending challenge that requires thorough understanding of all relevant legislation and the involvement of specialists. Health & Safety Programme Implementation ensures that fundamental Health and Safety procedures and strategies are put in place to uphold your Health and Safety Compliance.
The type of programme depends on the size of the workforce and the nature and extent of the risks and hazards in the workplace. Every workplace is different and the Occupational Health and Safety an environment programme/plan should be designed to address the specific needs of the individual workplace. Depending on the workplace, there may be a number of health and safety programmes in addition to the formal OHS programme. These may include an emergency plan, noise control, a confined space entry programme and a respirator programme. Most programmes should be reviewed annually to ensure that they are effective and to consider changes in the workplace and work activities.
The Health and safety policy in the workplace brings about a new awareness of Health and safety amongst all workers. When informed and made aware of health & safety, it spreads like a wildfire preverbially. Each and everyone wants to be apart of it and is the correct way to conduct work everyday.
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