Section 8(1) of the South African Occupational Health & Safety Act (Act 85 of 1993) clearly states that 'every employer shall provide and maintain, as far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of his employees'. However, people perceive 'safety' and 'risk' differently.

Providing and maintaining a working environment that is legally compliant without having to break the bank, is for many employers a very thin line. Most companies are focused on producing at as little cost as possible. With the economy severely under pressure, few companies can afford what they perceive as 'luxuries' that don't increase productivity directly. To them, risk is often 'calculated'.

Employees who are supposed to do the job, might feel differently but they do not always feel compelled to voice their concerns. However, employees should do so and they should be encouraged to do so as this will benefit the company in the long run. Inspectors from the Department of Labour will not tolerate any non-compliance, and if non-compliance results in accidents or incidents, the final consequences could be dire for the organization. Employers should point out that employees are protected by several laws and have the right to voice their concerns unconditionally. All laws also clearly state that employees have the right to refuse unsafe work or unsafe working conditions. Important laws that have been drafted in the interest of the South African employees include;

– The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)

– The Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA)

– The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA)

– The Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act (ODMWA)

– The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA)

– The Labour Relations Act (LRA)

Legislation is often explained as being a set of rules one has to comply with in the interest of the greater good. It is scarcely perceived as something that is legal right. Instead of considering South African health and safety legislation as something that companies have to comply with at any cost, it is better to encourage employees to embrace legislation and actively pursue adherence to its content. Employees who have accepted legislation as their right, will be more cooperative and proactive in ensuring a working environment that is safe and without risk. The advantage for employers is that this, often comes at a fraction of the cost they would have had to pay if they have had to deal with the costs of accidents, incidents and possible fines for non-compliance.

MAKROSAFE Health and Safety consultants deal with employers in different industries and with employees of various backgrounds. These Health and Safety consultants know from experience, how challenging it can be to ensure that the workplace is legally compliant. Let them assess your workplace and advise you on how to remain compliant. Employees are legally entitled to have a safe and healthy workplace. MAKROSAFE Health and Safety consultants will achieve this in a professional manner.

Posted date: 1st Mar 2016
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