Health and Safety Risk Assessment for Employees
Employers have a legal obligation to consult with employees, or Health and Safety Representatives, on matters relating to health and safety. It is imperative that employers make provision for health and safety risk assessment for employees as health and safety is the responsibility of employees as well and they have legal obligations as well.
However, in the following sections, how employers must consult with their employees, over what, and why, will be discussed in detail.
Why must employers consult with employees on health and safety?
Benefits of employers consulting with employees can include:
- Increases in productivity.
- Improvements in overall efficiency as well as quality.
- Higher levels of motivation from employees and overall job satisfaction.
When employers consult their employees regarding health and safety, including risk assessments, it can result in:
- A healthier as well as a safer workplace as employees can identify hazards, assess the risk, and develop efficient ways through which risks can be controlled or removed.
- Improved decisions regarding health and safety as they are based on input as well as experience of a variety of people.
- Stronger commitment towards implementation of decisions and/or actions as employees were previously actively involved in reaching such decisions.
- Greater cooperation as well as trust as employers and employees have consistent communication.
- Problem-solving as there is collaboration.
What must employers consult their employees about?
Employers must consult employees, or Health and Safety Representatives regarding some of the following:
- When measures are introduced that may affect the health and safety of employees.
- Arrangements involved with having competent persons help with compliance towards health and safety laws.
- Information on risks and dangers that arise form their work, the measures to reduce and eliminate these risks, and what employees can do if they are exposed to risks.
- Planning as well as organisation of health and safety training.
- The health and safety consequences of introducing new technologies or techniques.
What information must employers make available to their employees
Employees and Health and Safety Representatives must be provided with information that will allow them to participate fully and effectively during the consultation. When representatives are consulted, employers must provide them with the information which enables them to fulfil their roles and functions.
Information must include risks that arise from the employee’s work activities, the measures which are in place, proposals to control the risks, and what employees can do when and if they are exposed to a risk, which must include emergency procedures.
What does consultation with employees involve?
Consultation involves employers providing employees with information and listening to them and considering what they say before health and safety decisions are made. The law does not indicate when employers must consult, or for how long, but it does expect that consultations are in ‘good time’.
This means that employers must allow enough time for employees to consider the matters which are raised and provide them with adequate and informed responses.
Consultation does not remove the right of the employer to manage, and it is still the employer’s decision that will make something final, however, employees are still a crucial part of successfully managing health and safety.
Functions of Health and Safety Representatives
As per the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 85 of 1993, Health and Safety Representatives may perform the following:
- Review the effectiveness of health and safety measures.
- Identify potential hazards as well as major incidents.
- Examine the causes of incidents.
- Investigate any, and all complaints.
- Advise the health and safety committee as well as the employer.
Health and Safety Representatives shall be entitled to the following:
- Visit the sites where incidents have occurred and attend inspections.
- Attend any investigation or a formal inquiry.
- Inspect any document which relates to health and safety matters.
- Accompany an inspector.
- Be accompanied by a technical advisor if has been approved by the employer.
- Participate in internal audits.
How are regulations enforced?
When there is non-compliance with the law and other regulations, it is a criminal offence. Health and Safety Inspectors may enforce these regulations where there is no evidence of consultation with employees on certain matters.
They may also enforce the regulations if employers fail to comply with their legal duties on procedures.
If there are disagreements between the employer and employees regarding the interpretation of the regulations, they must be addressed through internal procedures for resolving employment relations disputes.
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 Occupational Health and Safety Act, all other Regulations, and more.
Through the assistance and support in the health and safety programme of the subscriber, SafetyWallet helps subscribers with the health and safety risk assessments that must be conducted to ensure that subscribers are compliant in providing a healthy and safe working environment.
For more information, click here.
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