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Did you know every employer in South Africa is required to have an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) policy that complies with the requirements of the OHS Act? Did you know that by not being compliant businesses close their doors every year due to legal action and expenses resulting from an OHS case?
Don’t be one of those businesses. Get compliant. And if you aren’t sure how to do this, the RMI is here to help.
Our country’s Constitution allows every person the right to a healthy and safe environment. All employers are compelled to adopt and implement measures to safeguard their employees against occupational accidents and diseases as well as ensuring the health and safety of persons other than employees entering the business premises.
Here are the basics in a nutshell for employers.
You have to develop an OHS policy that all employees need to review and understand. To put this policy together you need to appoint an OHS Committee and a Health and Safety Representative.
The OHS Act requires that you provide and maintain as far as reasonably practicable, a safe- and hazardous-free working environment.
You need to take reasonable steps to eliminate or mitigate health and safety hazards before resorting to personal protective equipment. You also need to protect and safeguard the environment against harmful practices that might start in the workplace. It is also your job to enforce disciplinary measures as prescribed in legislation, in the interest of health and safety in the business.
There is a process in terms of putting the OHS Committee together and selecting the Health and Safety Representative. Employers and workers must consult one another with regards to the nomination or election, period of office and appointment of the committee.
The committee is expected to hold meetings as often as necessary, but at least once every three months; to make recommendations to the employer regarding health and safety matters; to discuss incidents; and keep record of all recommendations made.
Among other things, the Health and Safety Representatives are empowered to identify potential dangers, investigate incidents, make recommendations and conduct inspections.
They are also expected to attend any investigation or formal inquiry held in terms of the Act.
What you need to realise is that OHS compliance is so much more than just having a fire extinguisher on the property. It also covers aspects such as general sanitation; hygiene and cleanliness; sufficient and quality lighting; adequate ventilation; drinking water; First Aid, safe and secure storage facilities for hazardous equipment and chemicals; protective wear and safety equipment; signage and more.
As the RMI we stand for excellence and the highest industry standards. We want all our members to be 100% OHS compliant. Let’s all make the effort to take this seriously and get our businesses in order.