Understanding and implementing legal compliance
When the employer puts a health and safety system in place, they need to be sure that it complies with the laws of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act. This system must be regularly updated and correctly implemented. It is made up of 15 categories based on the audit protocol. We will now discuss these in more detail.
Below are some general compliance requirements for an employer:
Ensuring appropriate working equipment in terms of work task, safety characteristics, and safe utilisation.
Training and informing on using methods, inspections and maintenance.
Providing occupational safety and/or health signalization when hazards cannot be avoided or appropriately reduced by preventive measures.
Ensuring personal protective equipment which should correspond in terms of quality and the risks they are meant to, and which cannot be avoided by other means.
Ensuring a safe working environment and appropriate social and sanitary facilities.
Setting up a general frame as regards occupational health and safety management to include:
Risk assessment and prevention
Priority in terms of adopting collective protection
Ensuring of their proper training and information
Providing occupational health and safety measures even from the design stages and later, during the work development
Ensuring appropriate working equipment in terms of the following:
Training and informing on using methods
Inspections and maintenance
One of the major constituents of any OHS management system is the audit. It represents the basic instrument to attain the employer’s objectives as regards occupational health and safety. The major goal an OHS audit aims at consists of non-conformities assessment towards the regulations in force in the field, and setting up corrective measures to eliminate the non-conformities identified.
It is important to look at the possible consequences to health, safety, environment and production if noncompliance occurs. We will discuss the consequences in terms of the OHSA further on in this guide.
Category 1 – The OHS Act
This looks at the various sections of the Act, such as having a health and safety policy in place, the duties of the employer to their employees and learners, the general duties of manufacturers, the duty to inform employees of any hazards, duties of the employees, health and safety representatives and the health and safety committee.
Category 2: Administrative Compliance
These aspects need to be in place for full compliance with the Act:
A copy of the Act must be made available
Reporting of all incidents
Regulations around intoxication
Training of all appointed employees
Enforcement and discipline where necessary
Category 3: Mechanical Compliance
This includes any issues relating to machinery. This is usually only applicable to larger workplaces, or when construction is taking place.
Category 4: Electrical Compliance
The workplace needs to ensure that all electrical installations are maintained in a safe condition. There also needs to be relevant training provided for any electrical appliance.
Category 5: Workplace Environmental Compliance
This includes aspects such as lighting, ventilation, general housekeeping, and noise levels.
Category 6: Fire and Emergency Compliance
In the case of an emergency, all employees need to know the procedures that must take place. Fire precautions and prevention is of the utmost importance, as is the maintenance of fire fighting equipment (which must be inspected every 3 months), and how fighting of the actual fires will proceed.
The safety procedure is as follows:
1) In all emergencies the person that detects the emergency must sound the alarm and phone emergency services 10177 / 10111.
2) Switch off all electrical appliances where possible.
3) Lock away all paper.
4) Lock away all your valuables.
5) All visitors and persons with disabilities must be assisted out of the building.
6) Know your evacuation plans and listen to instructions of applicable marshals.
7) Move to your nearest exit.
8) Keep to your left.
9) Do not run and do not panic.
10) Do not use lifts where possible.
11) Meet at the Emergency Assembly point and wait for further instructions.
Category 7: General Safety Compliance
This includes personal protective equipment, first aid procedures and supplies, and any other general safety issues not covered in the other categories.
Category 8: Building and Construction Compliance
Building and construction that takes place at the workplace needs to comply with a detailed checklist. All construction must be supervised, and contractors need to have a risk assessment completed before any work is performed.
Category 9: Health Compliance
This category addresses health issues such as handling of hazardous chemical substances, medical examinations, drinking water, and sanitary facilities.
Category 10: Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act Compliance
Checklist Of Minimum Requirements for claiming compensation
Name of employee and ID number
Name of employer and registration number if available
Compensation Fund claim number
Service provider’s reference number and invoice number
The practice number
VAT registration number
Date of service
Item codes according to the officially published tariff guidelines
Amount claimed per item code and the total of the account
Category 11: Tobacco Products Control Act Compliance
Category 12: Municipal Bylaws Compliance
Category 13: South African National Standards SANS Codes Compliance
Category 14: National Building Regulations Compliance
Category 15: Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act Compliance
Consequences of Non-Compliance
Ensure that your company is managed according to government legislation and regulations, industry standards, and internal policies and procedures. How a company is managed and the measure of its compliance efforts has a direct impact on shareholder value. Poor management and non-compliance can lead to lost business, financial penalties, indefinite suspension of operations, and even criminal charges. While compliance is quickly becoming a requirement for all organizations-whether public or private, and regardless of in which industry they operate-there is much more to compliance than simply following the rules. Organizations need to not only achieve compliance- they must be able to demonstrate it as well.
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