Employer's health and safety responsibilities in South Africa towards suppliers, contractors, and visitors
Introduction to Employers Health and Safety Responsibilities
What is the employer’s health and safety responsibilities in South Africa towards suppliers, contractors, and visitors?
Employers, as according to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 85 of 1993, have a duty towards ensuring that employees and any visitors to the premises are safeguarded against hazards and risks. In addition to these duties, there are regulations which deal with hazards for industries that feature high risks.
Health and Safety Regulations
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (85 of 1993) is the primary legislation which covers work-related health and safety in South Africa. It clearly sets out the employer’s responsibilities for the health and safety of work environments.
Additionally, there are other specific regulations that cover certain other areas including lead, asbestos, chemicals, construction work, and gas safety.
The employer has a ‘duty of care’ to ensure, as far as practicable, the health, safety and welfare of employees is taken care of while they are at work. This begins with a risk assessment to identify any potential health and safety hazards.
There is often an employee, or ‘competent person’, who is tasked with health and safety responsibilities and has the required qualifications and training, either a safety representative or health and safety officer, who conducts such a risk assessment.
What does the employer’s ‘duty of care’ entail?
All employers, despite the size of the organisation, industry, sector, or nature of business must:
- Provide a safe workplace.
- Prevent risks to health, safety, and wellbeing.
- Ensure that plant as well as machinery is safe to use.
- Ensure that safe work practices are implemented and followed.
- Ensure that all materials are handled, stored, and used safely.
- Provide adequate first aid facilities.
- Inform employees and visitors to the site of potential hazards in the workplace, chemicals and other substances used, provide the relevant and necessary training.
- Implement emergency plans.
- Ensure that ventilation, temperature, illumination, toilet, washing, and rest facilities are provided and that they meet health, safety, and welfare requirements.
- Ensure that the right work equipment is provided and that it is effectively use as well as maintained regularly.
- Prevent or control employees’ exposure to hazardous substances that may pose a threat to health.
- Take precautions against risks which arise from flammable or explosive hazards, electrical equipment, noise, and radiation.
- Avoid potentially hazardous and dangerous work involving material handling.
- Provide effective supervision as needed.
- Provide personal protective clothing (PPE) free of charge.
- Ensure that the relevant warning signs are provided and maintained.
- Report accidents, injuries, diseases, and dangerous occurrences.
How to make the workplace safe and healthy
To ensure that the workplace is safe and healthy, the employer must:
- Ensure that their workplaces are properly ventilated, with clean and fresh air.
- Keeping temperatures at a comfortable level.
- Ensure that there is enough illumination.
- Keep the workplace and equipment clean.
- Ensure that workplaces have enough room for easy movement.
- Provide workstations that suit employees and the work to be conducted.
- Keep equipment in good and safe working order.
- Ensure that floors, walkways, stairs, and roadways are safe to use.
- Protect people from falling from heights and/or into dangerous substances.
- Ensure that there are adequate storing facilities and that procedures for safe storage are followed.
- Fit windows, doors, and gates which can open with the necessary safety devices.
- Provide suitable washing facilities as well as clean, drinkable water.
- IF necessary, provide employees with changing facilities.
- Set aside areas which can be used for rest breaks, including suitable facilities for pregnant women and nursing mothers.
- Ensure that employees take appropriate rest breaks and that they have adequate holiday entitlement.
- Ensure that employees who are required to work without supervision, or off-site, can do so safe and healthily.
Which incidents must be reported?
Employers have a legal obligation to report certain types of incidents in the workplace to the relevant authorities. Employers, contractors, and people who are in control of premises have a legal responsibility to report the following:
- Work-related deaths.
- Major injuries or reportable injuries (where an employee will be unable to perform their duty for three, or more, consecutive days).
- Work-related diseases, and
- Any dangerous occurrences such as near-miss accidents where an incident/accident could have occurred, but it did not.
These incidents/accidents must be reported by following the correct line of reporting, accommodated with the required documentation, follow-ups, and a proper investigation to determine causes and to implement corrective actions to prevent recurrence.
How can SafetyWallet help Employers and Contractors’ Health and Safety Compliance?
SafetyWallet works to ensure that its subscribers are supported and assisted in all matters relating to health and safety, and through a partnership with MAKROSAFE and OHS Online, subscribers can ensure that they are a part in creating a safer, healthier, and more compliant working environment. To further find out how you can ensure employer and contractor’s Health and Safety compliance, contact us.