A Contractor’s Health and Safety Responsibilities in South Africa – Part 3
Introduction to Health and Safety Responsibilities
Employers appoint contractors for a variety of reasons and work to be conducted on a project. These contractors may also appoint other subcontractors for tasks that need to be done. In the hierarchy of project management, each participant has a duty towards ensuring that the workplace remains safe, healthy, and harm-free for all employees and visitors to the site.
In this section, it is necessary to explore contractor safety compliance with OHS responsibilities in South Africa pertaining to the general safety obligations that they have, what must be done when an incident occurs, and the requirements where deliverables are concerned.
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General Obligations of a Contractor
The contractor is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that there is accident and worksite safety. This responsibility cannot be delegated to either subcontractors, suppliers, the client, or any other person. To this end, the contractor must:
- Promote a work environment that is both safe and healthy.
- Provide a site-specific accident prevention plan.
- Ensure that subcontractors and employees are trained in occupational health and safety topics that are relevant to the activities of the project. This can include but is not limited to, communication as well as training in anticipated hazards. In addition, documentation of training must be maintained and include the date and subject taught. This must always be available in the Site File and presented upon request.
- Instructing employees in safe work methods as well as practices when and where work is assigned.
- Ensure that all employees have, use, and clearly understand the limitations associated with personal protective equipment (PPE) and any equipment used during the project.
- Ensure that all equipment operators are qualified and trained on the specific piece of equipment in use. Such training must be readily available upon request as well.
- Ensure full cooperation with the client’s representatives in all matters relating to safety.
- Ensure that documented orientation training sessions are conducted for new employees. Training such as this must include, at a minimum, a review of:
- The site-specific accident prevention plan.
- Potential hazards in the assigned workplaces.
- The proper wear of required PPE.
- Methods employed to mitigate anticipated risks, and
- Emergency response procedures.
- Ensure that all subcontractors and/or suppliers who deliver material or services to the workplace are provided with the necessary specifications. They must also be informed of their obligations regarding workplace health and safety. These provisions must be documented and available upon request.
The contractor is the responsible party where hazardous conditions and practice corrections are concerned. Should it be determined that there is an immediate threat of harm to any employee, the contractor must take immediate action to either remove or safeguard personnel from such hazard.
The contractor must also ensure to stabilize or stop work until corrective actions can be implemented so that the hazard can be eliminated. In addition, the contractor must immediately inform the client or their representative/agent telephonically.
Contractor Injuries and Illnesses
Should any injuries or illnesses result from work, they must be reported to the client or their representative within 24-hours of the incident. Where work is conducted in remote locations, where emergency medical services cannot respond within 4 minutes, at least two persons must be available to render First Aid and CPR.
These persons must have valid certificates for such and there must be at least one qualified person for every certain number of employees during the project, but no less than two qualified persons.
The contractor must ensure that a worksite First Aid Kit is provided, maintained, and frequently inspected and that these inspections are documented. There must also be a documented inventory kept of the contents of the kit and the kit must accommodate the number of personnel in the area. For this reason, there should be several kits available in various work areas.
There are deliverables that must be affirmed and provided to the client, their representative and the safety officer. This must be submitted via email before work activities can commence either in a Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat format.
Deliverables include, but are not limited to:
- The site-specific accident prevention plan must be completed according to the necessary requirements.
- Verification of the necessary training certification of on-site personnel along with other appropriate training.
- The safety assessment program certification of the contractor, if relevant.
- The completion of the form to affirm the deliverables, if relevant.
Once the deliverables have been accepted, the contractor will be notified. However, acceptance thereof does not waive or lessen any contractual requirements or the obligation of the contractor to meet all contractual requirements and correct any deficiencies discovered at a later stage.
The acceptance also does not imply that the deliverables or material that they contain are adequate in preventing injuries or illnesses.
Should there be any delays or failure to submit the required documentation, it will not be considered a valid reason to extend the time of the contract or increase any cost payable by the party assuming responsibility for payment for the project.
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