OHS Legal Appointments and Committee Meetings
In order to manage your workplace Health and Safety it is important to have a dedicated Health and Safety Committee as well as the correct number of appointees for each role. Employers need to decide on the number of health and safety committee members and the employer must consult with the committee to initiate, develop, promote, maintain and review measures to ensure the health and safety of his employees at work.
Functions of a health and safety committee according to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 (of 1993):
A Health and Safety Committee -
May make recommendations to the employer or, where the recommendations fail to resolve the matter, to an inspector regarding any matter affecting the health or safety of persons at the workplace or any section thereof for which such committee has been established.
Shall discuss any incident at the workplace or section thereof in which or in consequence of which any person was injured, became ill or died, and may in writing report in the incident to an inspector and
Shall perform such other functions as may be prescribed
A health and safety committee shall keep record of each recommendation made to an employer in terms of subsection (1) (a) and of any report made to an inspector in terms of subsection (1) and (b)
A health and safety committee or a member thereof shall not incur any civil liability by reason of the fact only that it or he failed to do anything which it or he may or is required to do in terms of this Act
An employer shall take the prescribed steps to ensure that a health and safety committee complies with the provisions of section 19 (4) and performs the duties as assigned to it by subsections (1) and (2)
Members of a health and safety committee are appointed a specific health and safety duty and need to sign an appointment letter acknowledging their new duties.
A legal appointment is a legally binding document that states an employees duty within Health and Safety in their workplace. The document will go into in depth detail of what is expected as well as their responsibilities daily, monthly or during an emergency.
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According to the Act
The OHS Act and its Regulations require a number of appointments to be made. The most common are as follows:
Health and Safety Representative - It is compulsory to have a representative, and this individual must be appointed in writing. Further health and safety committee members should also be appointed.
Only those employees employed in a full-time capacity at a specific workplace and who are acquainted with conditions and activities at that workplace or section thereof, as the case may be, shall be eligible for designation as health and safety representatives for that workplace or section.
The number of health and safety representatives for a workplace or section thereof shall in the case of shops and offices be at least one health and safety representative for every 100 employees or part thereof, and in the case of all other workplaces at least one health and safety representative for every 50 employees or part thereof: Provided that those employees performing work at a workplace other than that where they ordinarily report for duty, shall be deemed to be working at the workplace where they so report for duty.
The functions of the Health and Safety Representative:
Review the effectiveness of health and safety measures
Identify potential hazards and potential major incidents at the workplace
In collaboration with his employer, examine the cause of incidents at the workplace
Investigate complaints by any employee relating to that employee’s health or safety at work
Make representations to the employer or a health and safety committee on matters arising from paragraphs (a), (b), © or (d), or where such representations are unsuccessful, to an inspector
Make representations to the employer on general matters affecting the health or safety of the employees at the workplace
Inspect the workplace, including any article, substance, plant, machinery or health and safety equipment at that workplace with a view to, the health and safety of employees at such intervals as may be agreed upon with the employer: provided that the health and safety representative shall give reasonable notice of his intention to carry out such an inspection to the employer, who may be present during the inspection
Participate in consultation with inspectors at the workplace and accompany inspectors on inspections in the workplace
Receive information from inspectors as contemplated in section 36; and
In his capacity as a health and safety representative attend meetings of the health and safety committee of which he is a member, in connection with any of the above functions.
A Health and Safety representative shall, in respect of the workplace or section of the workplace or section of the workplace for which he has been designated be entitled to -
Visit the site of an incident at all reasonable times and attend any inspection in loco;
Attend any investigation or formal inquiry held in terms of this Act;
In so far as it is reasonably necessary for performing his functions, inspect any document which the employer is required to keep in terms of the Act;
Accompany an inspector on any inspection;
With the approval of the employer (which approval shall not be unreasonably withheld), be accompanied by a technical advisor; and
Participate in any internal health and safety audit [Sub-s (2) substituted by s. 5 of Act no. 181 of 1993]
Although not compulsory, it is highly advisable that a suitably trained first aid appointment is made. It is good practice to have at least 1 first aider available for every 50 people in a workplace.
Where more than five employees are employed at a workplace, the employer of such employees shall provide a first aid box at or near the workplace which shall be available and accessible for the treatment of injured persons at the workplace
Taking into the account the type of injuries that are likely to occur at a workplace, the nature of the activities performed and the number of employees employed at such workplace, the employer shall make sure that the first aid box or boxes contemplated in sub-regulation (2) contain suitable first aid equipment which include at least the equipment listed in the annexure.
Where more than 10 employees are employed at a workplace, the employer of such employees shall take steps to ensure that for every group of up to 50 employees at that workplacem or in the case of a shop or an office as contemplated in the Basic Conditions of employment Act, 1983 (Act No. 3 of 1983), for every group of up to 100 employees, at least one person is readily available during normal working hours, who is in possession of a valid certificate of competency in first aid, issued by: the SA Red Cross Society, the St. Johns Ambulance, the SA First Aid League Or a person or organisation approved by the Chief inspector for this purpose.
Incident Investigator to carry out investigations - This can be in addition to the health and safety representative, and this person must also be appointed in writing.
An inspector may investigate the circumstances of any incident which has occured at or originated from a workplace or in connection with use of plant or machinery which has resulted, or in the opinion of the inspector has resulted, in the injury, illness or death of any person in order to determine whether it is necessary to hold a formal investigation in terms of section 32.
After completing the investigation in terms of subsection (1) the inspector shall submit a written report thereon, together with all the relevant statements, documents and information gathered by him, to the attorney-general within whose area of jurisdiction such incident occurred and he shall at the same time submit a copy of the report, statements and documents to the chief inspector.
Upon receipt of a report referred to in subsection (2), the attorney- general shall deal therewith in accordance with the provisions of the Inquests Act, 1959 (Act No. 58 of 1959), or the Criminal Procedure Act, 1997 (Act No. 51 of 1977), as the case may be.
An inspector holding an investigation shall not incur any civil liability by virtue of anything contained in the report referred to in subsection (2).
There is no specific number prescribed for fire fighters – The number of firefighters appointed is determined by the risks in your workplace.
According to the Environmental Regulations for workplaces:
(1) In order to expedite the evacuation of a workplace in case of fire, every employer shall ensure that -
(a) any emergency escape door from any room or passage or at a staircase shall, as far as is practicable, be hung so as to open outwards;
(b) every door of a room in which persons may be present, and every door of a passage or at a staircase serving as a means of exit from such room, shall be kept clear and capable of being easily and rapidly opened from inside so as to ensure quick and easy evacuation;
(c) the provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) shall also be complied with in respect of the outer escape exit from the workplace;
(d) staircases and steps leading from one floor to another or to the ground shall be provided with substantial hand-rails;
(e) staircases intended to be used as fire escapes shall -
(i) be constructed of non-combustible material;
(ii) be kept clear of any material or other obstruction; and
(iii) not terminate in an enclosed area;
(f) staircases, passages and exits intended for escape purposes shall be of a width and of a gradient which will facilitate the quick and safe egress of the number of persons intended to make use of them; and
(g) having regard to the size, construction and location of a workplace, the number of persons, and the activity therein, such workplace is provided with at least two means of egress situated as far apart as is practicable.
(2) Having regard to the size, construction and location of the workplace, and the amount and type of flammable articles uses, handled or stored on the premises, an employer shall provide on the premises an adequate supply of suitable fire-fighting equipment at strategic locations or as may be recommended by the fire chief of the local authority concerned, and such equipment shall be maintained in good working order.
16.1 - The primary responsibility for ensuring a safe and healthy work environment is placed on the Chief Executive Officer or person deemed to be the Chief Executive Officer of the organisation.
Every chief executive officer shall as far as reasonably practicable ensure that the duties of his employer as contemplated in this Act, are properly discharged.
Without derogating from his responsibility or liability in terms of subsection (1), a chief executive officer may assign any duty contemplated in the said subsection, to any person under his control, which person shall act subject to the control and directions of the chief executive officer
The provisions of subsection (1) shall not, subject to the provisions of section 37, relieve an employer of any responsibility or liability under this Act.
For the purpose of subsection (1), the head of department of any department of State shall be deemed to be the chief executive officer of that department.
16.2 - The Act allows the 16.1 to appoint another person or persons as a 16.2. The 16.2 shall act subject to the control and directions of the CEO (16.1).
It needs to be remembered that although there are specific legal appointments that are made, everyone that is employed by the company carries responsibility in terms of health and safety. There are also basic health and safety procedures that everyone should be familiar with to ensure that their workplace is healthy and safe.
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