What is Occupational Health and Safety?

Content provided by a guest contributor.

You can love it, hate it, comply with it or run away from it but the fact remains, it is here to stay. The easiest way to explain Occupational Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) is that it is a combination of legislative regulations designed to protect workers, employers, visitors and contractors from death, injury, illness and disease.

Unfortunately the norm is that most business managers are unable to implement it, is ignorant of it or is totally uneducated about it.

How many regulations are there?

The OHS Act is a section on its own, but there are a compilation of 21 different regulations divided up into 4 main groups. The groups are (a) General, (b) Health, (c) Mechanical and (d) Electrical.

This is not all; there is also the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Disease Act, Road traffic Act, Environmental Law and many more. The goal is not to scare you with all the regulations but to bring an awareness of them.

Do they all apply on your business?

The answer is no. It all depends on what your organisation does. For instance the Major Hazard Installation Regulations, Explosive regulations, Diving Regulations, Hazardous Chemical Substance Regulations will only apply to the industries that deal with them.

General Administrative Regulations, General Safety Regulations, Facilities Regulations and some others will apply to all businesses.

What if I don’t want to comply?

Face the consequences! That is unfortunately how it is. The Department Of Labour can shut a business or construction site down, you can be investigated by the Compensation Commission, the CEO (owner) of the business can face manslaughter charges if there is a fatality, etc.

This is not to scare you, but to warn you. Unfortunately most businesses ignore the OHS ACT and regulations until it’s too late. As soon as there’s been an incident it’s too late to try and cover up the fact that there is no Health and safety in place. The truth will come out in the investigations.

It’s a waste of money

Yes it does cost money but the answer is that it’s not a waste of money. A price cannot be placed on the safety and health of a worker. Let’s look at an example. A worker gets injured while performing a normal daily task. What will it cost to temporary employ somebody else to perform his tasks while he is recovering? Don’t forget, you still have to pay two salaries, the new employee must be trained, productivity slows down, and you are facing investigations.

So what is the solution?

Be compliant. Don’t take unnecessary risks with the future of your business. Make use of a competent consultant to perform a Hazard Analysis and do Risk Assessments. Develop safe work procedures. Do inductions with your workers, contractors and visitors. Comply with the OHS Act and all the regulations related to your industry.


Brought to you by Raymond Wienand – Director of SafetyFile

www.safetyfile.co.za | email raymond@safetyfile.co.za

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