14 Health and Safety Compliance must-haves for South Africa
Importance of Health and Safety Compliance
Simply defined, health and safety compliance means abiding by the Occupational Health and Safety Act. A list of compliance must-haves ensures more employees' safety and their return to their loved ones at the end of each working day, under South African work environment.
Health and Safety Compliance serves the purpose of implementing, promoting, and maintaining the highest degree of physical, mental, and social well-being of all employees in the organisation.
It also serves the purpose of preventing adverse health issues, illnesses, injuries, and death which can arise from working conditions and the work environment. There are numerous businesses that rely on internal processes to ensure health and safety compliance.
However, the gold standard is to obtain assistance from health and safety consultants like SafetyWallet and MAKROSAFE in the meeting, and overcoming, the challenges which are faced to ensure an adequate health and safety management system is in place.
Once employers have taken the necessary steps to ensure that the workplace is both healthy and safe, they also have the duty of further promoting and maintaining these high health and safety standards that have been achieved.
Workplace health and Safety compliance also serves the purpose of equipping employees in the workplace with the necessary skills and abilities to safeguard their own health and safety. Thus, it is imperative for employers to ensure that their employees receive the necessary training.
Health and safety compliance are not optional, it is compulsory by law. It is for this reason that the Department of Labour enforces it through numerous Acts such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Benefits of Health and Safety Compliance
There are numerous benefits from ensuring health and safety compliance, including:
- Improved performance in both health and safety
- A great reduction in cost deriving from accidents and incidents which occur in the workplace.
- Improvements associated with staff relations as well as morale.
- Improvement in business efficiency.
- Improved public image as well as public relations.
- Lower insurance premiums as a result of reduced risks.
- Easier access to finance.
- Increased compliance with regulations as a set standard.
- Improved confidence from staff through to management.
- A substantial increase in corporate and social responsibility.
What are the must-haves for Health and Safety Compliance in South Africa?
Any successful company must ensure that health and safety compliance is its top priority. Employees are any company’s most valuable assets, and their health and safety are paramount.
There are numerous considerations for a company, but when it comes to health and safety compliance, there are must-haves that must be in place.
1. The OHS Act must be accessible
For employees to fulfil their duties and responsibilities towards their own health and safety, and that of others working with them, they must have access to a copy of the Act.
It is the duty of the employer to ensure that employees can access the Act at any given time.
2. Provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
It is the duty of the employer to provide adequate PPE and the employee’s responsibility to wear it and take care of it. Wearing the correct PPE for the job can greatly reduce physical harm.
PPE includes gloves, protective clothing, face masks, helmets, safety harnesses, safety boots, and numerous others. PPE is heavily regulated by law and thus compliance must be strictly monitored.
3. Maintenance of machinery and access to machinery
To prevent accidents and incidents relating to machinery, there must be effective and frequent maintenance to ensure machinery is kept in perfect and safe working condition.
There should also be effective measures that prevent accidental or unauthorized access to machines, therefore limiting the chances for injuries and accidents to occur.
4. Safety Training
For every hundred employees, at least one trained First Aid officer must be appointed. However, it is advisable to have several employees trained in performing basic first aid, as there is no limit on the number of employees who can be trained.
It is also necessary to have a fire and safety procedure in place and to ensure that designated employees are trained in such procedures should there be an emergency.
5. Health and Safety Officers
Employees who possess the necessary qualifications and training to be appointed in such positions must be appointed in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The appointments must be formal and communicated in writing. Each appointment letter must clearly state the legal responsibilities and duties of each officer clearly.
6. Injury on Duty reports
Should an injury occur on duty, it is imperative that the relevant documentation be completed. IOD reports help to assess threats as well as risks that are present in the workplace and can assist in preventing similar injuries in future.
7. Health and Safety Policies
A policy covers the goals as well as principles of a business regarding health and safety. A policy is a formal statement in which a company declares its commitment towards keeping employees safe and free from harm.
Policies should be available to all employees at any given time. They should also be reviewed frequently to ensure that they remain relevant.
8. Regular Health and Safety Inspections
Conditions in the workplace can change quickly and for this reason, there should be regular monitoring and Health and Safety inspection on workplaces. By doing this, new potential hazards can be identified, and the effectiveness of the current safety measures can be determined.
This allows for analysis to be made in addition to suggestions on improving safety and health measures to ensure continued protection of employees.
9. Effective Communication
It is imperative that employees are kept up to date with the latest health and safety rules and regulations. This can be done effectively by ensuring that notice and information boards are in place and visible, and that they are kept up to date with the latest Health and Safety communication.
10. Safe Work Procedure Plan
Also known as a Safe Operating Procedure Plan, the plan is a working document which describes the best and safest way relevant tasks must be performed.
Not only does this keep employees safe but it also safeguards tools, machinery, and equipment. Through this, the quality service or product can also be ensured.
11. Occupational Hygiene Surveys
It is imperative that frequent occupational hygiene surveys be conducted on the working environment. This is to ensure that employees are not exposed to an environment which is harmful or hazardous to their health.
It is the duty of the employer to prevent occupational diseases as they will be held liable for neglecting this.
12. Frequent Toolbox Talks
Toolbox talks are small discussion forums where safety issues are addressed and discussed with the group, often before work starts. These toolbox talks help to promote safety as well as keep employees informed.
It also allows a perfect platform where employees can discuss their concerns and provide suggestions with regards to health and safety matters.
13. Formal Health and Safety Committee Meetings
As according to the OHS Act, there must be regular schedule Health and Safety meetings between health and safety representatives as well as employer representatives. These meetings must be held at least every three months and should include discussions on health and safety matters, issues, or concerns and the solving thereof to the benefit of the employees.
14. Risk Assessments
During this risk assessment process, all potential hazards are identified and then analysed to find out how they can be controlled and eliminated. It is the most important part of the OHS programme and companies are required to comply to the Occupational Health and Safety Act in every regard.
How can a subscription to SafetyWallet help improve health and safety compliance?
Employers have legal obligations towards their employees. There are many challenges to face in implementing an effective health and safety management programme and ensuring that it is maintained.
SafetyWallet offers employers across all industries with the perfect health and safety solution. With SafetyWallet, employers are assisted with:
- Health and Safety programmes
- Health and Safety committees
- Health and Safety representatives
- The involvement of both employers and employees, and more.
SafetyWallet, in partnership with MAKROSAFE and other partners, has been assisting employers in South Africa with their workplace health and safety compliance for several years.
To ensure continued health and safety compliance and to effectively manage health and safety risks, SafetyWallet conducts a health and safety grading audit.
The audit identifies any health and safety deviations in the health and safety programme and determines the compliance level with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
It also highlights key areas for improvement, identifies strengths, and highlights opportunities to improve everyday health and safety risk management.
By making use of SafetyWallet’s services, employers can rest assured that their health and safety compliance will be taken care of.