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Why Occupational Health And Safety is Important in the Workplace

Why Occupational Health And Safety is Important in the Workplace

Do you find yourself overwhelmed by Health and Safety (H&S) in the workplace? You’re probably not the only one. Although it may seem confusing to begin with, Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) is extremely valuable and is rightly being incorporated into more and more workplaces around the world.

Why is Occupational Health and Safety so important in the workplace?

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) is important to the workplace because it safeguards the welfare of those in employment. Occupational Health and Safety legislation was established to protect both employees and employers. It is part of the legislation under the basic guides of regulation. The Department of Labour takes the well-being of employees very seriously, as should employers.

Benefits of Prioritising OHS in Your Workplace

Prioritising OHS at your business has several key benefits, including:

  • Reduced risk or accidents or injuries by identifying and mitigating hazards
  • Improved efficiency and productivity due to fewer employees missing work from illness or injury
  • Improved employee relations and morale (a safer work environment is a less stressful work environment)
  • Reduced costs associated with accidents or injuries (healthcare and rehabilitative costs, losses in productivity, impact on employees’ well-being)
  • Lower insurance premiums resulting from fewer workplace incidents and workers’ compensation claims
Occupational Health And Safety

Increased Awareness and Safe Working Culture

You don’t spend thousands upon thousands of rands putting your staff on mandatory training courses just for the sake of it. OH&S training courses, all the way from Working at Height to Supply Chain Management, are all designed to create awareness of workplace surroundings and create a safe working culture.

This sounds good on paper, but it’s even better in practice. Once they’ve completed the relevant OH&S training courses, staff will work in a much safer way and will understand how to minimise workplace risk. As they learn to avoid hazards and raise concerns about potentially dangerous tasks, workplace-related injuries will reduce.

When OH&S training is carried out correctly, staff know how to use the tools that are required for their job. Injuries are less likely to occur, and the work will be carried out to a higher standard as well. You’ll have highly trained staff and a reduction in man-hours lost to injury and illness.

Occupational Health Law and Regulations in South Africa

South Africa has its own Occupational Health and Safety laws and a regulator to enforce them. 

The Occupational Health and Safety Act are supported by subordinate legislation, Regulations and Codes of Practice, which give practical guidelines on how to manage health and safety issues.

Under the Act we all have obligations that we must comply with. Twenty-one sets of regulations form an inseparable part of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

  • Act – outlines your broad responsibilities
    • Occupational Health and Safety Act (85 of 1993)
  • Regulations – set out specific requirements for particular hazards and risks such as Health,General, Electrical, Machinery and Specific
    • Asbestos Regulations,2001
    • Hazardous Biological Agent Regulations, 2001
    • Hazardous Chemical Substances Regulations, 1995
    • Lead Regulations, 2001
    • Noise Induced Hearing Loss Regulations, 2003
    • Environmental Regulations for Workplaces, 1987
    • Facilities Regulations, 1990
    • General Administrative Regulations, 2003
    • General Safety Regulations, 1986
    • Electrical Installation Regulations, 2009
    • Electrical Machinery Regulations, 1988
    • Driven Machinery Regulations, 2015
    • General Machinery Regulations, 1988
    • Lift, Escalator and Passenger Conveyor Regulations, 1994
    • Pressure Equipment Regulations, 2009
    • Regulations concerning the Certificate of Competency, 1990
    • Construction Regulations, 2014
    • Diving Regulations, 2001
    • Explosives Regulations, 2003
    • Major Hazard Installation Regulations, 1993
    • Regulations on Hazardous Work by Children in SA, 2010
    • Draft Ergonomics Regulations, 2017
  • Codes of Practice – provide practical information on how you can meet the requirements in the Act and Regulations
    • WA Codes of Practice
  • Regulating Agencies  – administers WHS laws, inspects workplaces, provides advice and enforces the laws
    • Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA) under the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL); 
    • The Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA) under the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE); 
    • The Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act (ODMWA) under the Department of Health (DoH)
Occupational Health And Safety

What Happens When the Employer Does Not Follow the Occupational Health and Safety Rules and Regulations?

In South Africa, it is the employee’s right to work in a safe and healthy environment. Should a company not comply with health and safety standards, the staff member/s affected can lay an official complaint with the employer or the health and safety representative of the company.

In the event where neither the employer nor the health and safety representative or coordinator deals with the issue, the employee can report it to an inspector at the Department of Labour.

According to the OHS Act, both employer and employee must comply with the prescriptions of the OHS Act. Should any individual violate the OHS Act, they could receive a fine or penalty. In serious cases, the person responsible could be imprisoned. The maximum fine stands at R50 000 and imprisonment could last for as long as 12 months.   

Put Safety First

Ultimately, Occupational Health and Safety will look after both your employees and your profits. In the past, too many workers have suffered tragic losses – Occupational Health and Safety strives to make workplace accidents a thing of the past.

Our training team are professional, patient, and fully certified OH&S training course leaders. Ulwazi Training is committed to shaping tomorrow’s Safety Leaders Today.

Please feel free to share in the comments below and ask us any questions. 

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The team at Ulwazi


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