OHS Legal Appointments in the workplace

The OHS Act and its Regulations require a number of appointments to be made.
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, Section 19:

(1) An employer shall in respect of each workplace where two or more health and safety representatives have been designated, establish one or more health and safety committees and, at every meeting of such a committee as contemplated in subsection 19.(4), consult with the committee with a view to initiating, developing, promoting, maintaining and reviewing measures to ensure the health and safety of his employees at work.
(3) The persons nominated by an employer on a health and safety committee shall be designated in writing by the employer for such period as may be determined by him, while the health and safety representatives shall be members of the committee for the period of their designation in terms of section 17.(1).

It is therefore vital that a company has the correct type and number of legal appointments to be part of the committee and keep their workplace safe. There are a number of appointees that need to be appointed in the workplace.

legal appointments in the workplace

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The safety officer should be responsible for the following:

Assessing the situation to determine whether an emergency exists requiring activation of your emergency procedures.
Supervising all efforts in the area, including evacuating personnel.
Coordinating outside emergency services, such as medical aid, first aid and local fire departments (if there is a fire for example), and ensuring that they are available and notified when necessary; and directing the shutdown of operations when required.
In addition to a coordinator, you may want to designate employees who attended the fire fighting course
Machinery supervisor to deal with the safe operation of machinery. This can be something as simple as a gas bottle.
Assistant to the CEO to directly assist with health and safety. This role is usually attributed to the departmental heads.

It is compulsory to have a Health and Safety 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), ( c ) 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.

functions of health and safety representative

First Aider

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

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 workplace 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.

Fire Fighter

As per Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, a person appointed as fire fighter / member of the firefighting team your duties will include, amongst others, the following:
1. To assist the firefighting coordinator with the identification of any hazards and measures for the elimination, reduction or control of such hazards;
2. In case of a fire alarm being raised, to immediately report to the firefighting coordinator,  taking with you any previously identified firefighting equipment;
3. To act strictly in accordance with any instructions given by the firefighting coordinator to fight such fires until this task can be taken over by the relevant emergency    services; and
4. On arrival of the emergency services to withdraw from the fire immediately and report back to the firefighting coordinator; any further instructions, even from the emergency services, will be channeled through and be given to you by the firefighting coordinator.

There is no specific number prescribed for firefighters – The number of firefighters appointed is determined by the risks in your workplace.

Other appointments can include a ladder inspector, supervisor of machinery, principal contract, scaffolding supervisor, and fire fighting inspector.

It needs to be remembered that although there are specific legal appointments that are made, everyone that is employed carries responsibility in terms of health and safety. There are also basic health and safety procedures that everyone should be familiar with.

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Posted date: 22nd Nov 2021
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