Health and Safety Risk Assessment – Legal Requirements

Is a Risk Assessment a legal requirement?

Whether an employer runs a large, medium, or small organisation, or whether they are a sole trader, they must ensure that they are consistently compliant with the relevant laws that dictate their industry and trade. The necessary health and safety protocols must be followed and often there may be questions asked regarding risk assessments.

Is a risk assessment a legal requirement? The short answer is yes. It is a legal requirement; however, it does not have to be a tedious, time-consuming exercise.

When is a risk assessment a legal requirement?

Risk assessments form part of everyday life and we do it without even realising it. Should there be anything which could cause damage to the organisation, or its employees, an assessment must be conducted.

Employers are legally responsible for ensuring a safe and healthy environment in which people work, it is therefore the employer’s job to understand the work activities and the environment in the workplace, assess the risks that are significant enough to require control measures, and act.

In the workplace, some of the areas that may require attention may include:

  • Machines
  • Equipment
  • Tools
  • Fire
  • Dangerous and hazardous chemicals
  • Vehicles

Health and Safety Risk Assessment – Legal Requirements

What does the law say about risk assessments?

There are several laws dictating the responsibilities of the employer in providing a workplace which is safe, healthy, and free of anything that could potentially harm employees, visitors, or anyone else who may be affected by work activities.

The first step to ensure that the workplace is adequate, is to conduct an assessment followed by implementing adequate control measures to eliminate, reduce, control, mitigate, substitute, or manage the risks present.

How to comply with the law?

To ensure that there is compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 and all other regulations, employers must have the following in place:

  • Keep a written record of risk assessments that are carried out.
  • Include all relevant details as well as their actions in addition to showing the hierarchy of control that was implemented.
  • Communicate findings to all employees.
  • Ensure that reviews are frequently done.

What the law says on assessing risks

To ensure that the employer provides a safe and healthy work environment which is free of hazards and risks, it is imperative to consider what the law says on assessing risks, to ensure that employers are within the right legal parameters and to ensure that all guidelines were followed.

For a risk assessment to be considered both suitable and sufficient, it must show the following:

  • That a thorough assessment was done.
  • That the it states those who may be affected by hazards and risks identified.
  • That all obvious and significant risks have been dealt with, considering the number of people who may be involved should an incident, accident, or injury arise from a risk.
  • That the control measures and precautions are reasonable and that, after they were applied, the remaining risk is low.
  • That the workers and/or their representatives were involved in the process.

Health and Safety Risk Assessment – Legal Requirements

Managing risks at work

The law legally binds any employer, who has employees in any capacity, to provide a safe and healthy environment and to ensure that employees, and others who visit the workplace or who may be affected by work activities, are safeguarded.

Managing risks must be a priority in any organisation and the minimum that can be done is:

  • Identify what could cause injury or illness in the organisation, also known as hazards.
  • Decide on the likelihood that someone could be harmed and how serious it could be, also known as determining the risk.
  • Act to eliminate the hazard and if this is not possible, control the risk.

Risk assessment is merely one part in the overall process which is used to control risks in the work environment. To manage risks, risk management must be a crucial part in the OHS system.

An assessment can either be carried out by the employer, or they could appoint a competent person such as a health and safety manager or officer to do it on their behalf.

The process involved is as follows:

  • Identify hazards
  • Assess the risks
  • Control the risks
  • Record the findings
  • Review the controls for effectiveness and relevance.

Occupational Health and Safety Risk Assessment

South African businesses may often find it challenging to dedicate both the time and expertise to fully comply with all the various OHS regulations in the workplace. However, despite this, each employer is still legally obligated to ensure that their employees work in an environment that is safe and free of hazards.

There are several health and safety risk assessments, as per the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, that must be done to ensure compliance. A health and safety risk assessment is the starting point of any OHS management system.

One way to ensure compliance, especially when there is little time and resources for the employer to do so themselves, is to outsource the duty to professionals such as SafetyWallet.

SafetyWallet offers subscribers with a comprehensive package which includes all the support and assistance that employers require to ensure full compliance, not only with OHSA, but all other relevant laws and regulations.

The occupational health and safety legislation that employers must comply with, and thus ensure that risk assessments are done according to include:

  • Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993
  • Noise Induced Hearing Loss Regulation of 2003, Section 6.
  • Mine Health and Safety Act, 1996 (Act No. 29 of 1996).
  • Lead Regulation of 2002, Section 6.
  • Hazardous Chemical Substances Regulation of 1995, Section 5.

How does SafetyWallet support its subscribers?

SafetyWallet, in partnership with MAKROSAFE and OHS Online, ensures that subscribers can obtain the highest level of compliance with the OHS Act, all other Regulations, and more.

MAKROSAFE have been assisting clients for more than 23 years with recommendations and risk assessments for a hazard-free environment.
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Through the assistance and support in the health and safety programme of the subscriber, SafetyWallet helps subscribers with the assessments that must be conducted to ensure that subscribers are compliant in providing a healthy and safe working environment.

Keeping your workplace legally Health and Safety Compliant may seem like a daunting task. At MAKROSAFE, we have an experienced team of OHS experts available to assist in keeping your company Health and Safety Compliant according to South African Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 and Regulations.
The MAKROSAFE Health and Safety Risk Control Package will assist you with your Risk Management Programme.
By signing up with our Health and Safety Risk Control Package, MAKROSAFE will assist you with your Risk Management journey.
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Posted date: 28th Apr 2021
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