Occupational Health and Safety refers to the health and safety of a work environment. The Occupational Health and Safety Act was created to provide a clear structure of what health and safety should look like in the work environment. The Act has come a long way in the last 100 years.
Established in 1918, there has been extensive development and research done to develop a structure that works effectively that supports the employees as well as employers. It is important to remember that this is not a new Act that is being implemented but rather a reviewed Act.
There has been a couple of amendments to the Act that were made in the following years:
1918 - Established
In the past there wasn't any provision made to protect everybody but rather only certain sectors. With the amendments made to the 1993 Occupational Health and Safety Act, this has changed where systems are put in place to protect all South Africans. The Act isn't just about workers at work, but it's about including members of the public that's affected by the activities of the business.
Working closely with the Department of Health as well as the International Institute of Occupational Health, all amendments have been carefully considered and the results thereof.
What is the aim of the Occupational Health & Safety Act?
According to the South African Labour Guide the aim is to provide safety and health to employees at work with regards to their working environments. Further, it's been put in place to provide protection to people other than people at work, from hazards arising out of or in connection with activities from people at work and to establish an advisory council.
The main objective of the act can be described as a pro-active attempt by the South African government to prevent and avoid work related injuries and illness. The Act covers a diverse range of work industries in South Africa which includes normal office working environments to working environments that has many dangerous risks such as construction, mining and industrial plants.
The complete Occupational Health and Safety Act consists of 50 sections as approved by the South African parliament. The different sections address important aspects that have a direct impact on your business as listed below:
- Establishment of Advisory Council for OHS
- Functions of Council
- Constitution of Council
- Period of office and remuneration of members of Council
- Establishment of technical committees of Council
- Health and safety policy
- General duties of employers to their employees
- General duties of employers and self-employed persons to persons other than their employees
- General duties of manufacturers and others regarding articles and substances for use at work
- Listed work
- General duties of employers regarding listed work
- Duty to inform
- General duties of employees at work
- Duty not to interfere with, damage or misuse things
- Chief executive officer charged with certain duties
- Health and safety representatives
- Functions of health and safety representatives
- Health and safety committees
- Functions of health and safety committees
- General prohibitions
- Sale of certain articles prohibited
- Certain deductions prohibited
- Report to inspector regarding certain incidents
- Report to chief inspector regarding occupational diseases
- Victimization forbidden
- Designation and functions of chief inspector
- Designation of inspectors by Minister
- Functions of inspectors
- Special powers of inspectors
- Formal inquiries
- Joint inquiries
- Obstruction of investigation or inquiry or presiding inspector or failure to render assistance
- Appeal against decision of inspector
- Disclosure of information
- Acts or omissions by employees or mandatories
- Offences, penalties and special orders of court
- Proof of certain facts
- This Act not affected by agreements
- Delegation and assignment of functions
- Incorporation of health and safety standards in regulations
- Serving of notices
- Jurisdiction of magistrates' courts
- State bound
- Conflict of provisions
- Repeal of laws
- Short title and commencement
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