What is a Health and Safety Statement, and a Risk Assessment? Part 1
Despite the industry, or the nature of business of an organisation, employers may be faced with one crucial consideration relating to what a health and safety statement, and a risk assessment is, what they relate to, and what they entail.
The sections below will answer any questions or uncertainties relating to such considerations and provide employers with the information they need to address these considerations in their own occupational health and safety system to ensure that they comply.
What is a Risk Assessment?
Employers are legally required, by the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, to ensure a workplace that is healthy, safe, and does not pose any hazard or risk to any employees or visitors to the site.
To ensure that the workplace remains healthy and safe, employers must conduct a risk assessment. The person conducting the risk assessment must be properly trained as a risk assessor. This involves the identification of hazards and risks in the workplace. These must be examined and written down and control measures must be assigned to either eliminate, reduce, isolate, substitute, or control them.
In addition, the level of risk, their probability and severity must also be indicated, allowing employers to estimate the magnitude of risk. It allows them to decide whether the risk is acceptable, or whether more precautions are necessary to prevent harm.
What is a Safety Statement?
A safety statement is a written programme which safeguards:
- The safety as well as the health of employees while they work.
- The safety and health of others who may be present in the workplace, including customers, visitors, and members of the public.
The safety statement, also known as the Health and Safety Policy, is a representation of the commitment of an employer towards their safety, health, and wellbeing. It must clearly state how the employer will ensure health and safety in addition to stating the resources necessary to maintain, and review, health, and safety laws as well as standards.
The safety statement must direct and influence all work activities, including, but not limited to:
- The selection of competent people, equipment, and materials.
- The way in which work is done.
- How goods and services are designed as well as provided.
Difference between a Hazard and a Risk
A hazard refers to anything which has the potential to cause harm, whether it is an injury, disease-related incident, damage to property, the environment, or any combination of these.
A risk is the likelihood, whether small or large, that an undesired event will occur as result of a hazard. Risks depend on the likelihood of hazards paired with the severity of the harm which is suffered and/or the consequences. Risks can also depend on the number of people who may be exposed to the hazard.
Importance of both an Assessment and a Safety Statement
The main purpose is to ensure that no person is hurt or becomes ill. Accidents and disease-related incidents have the potential to ruin lives and they may also lead to severe implications that can affect the organisation if output is lost, machinery is damaged, if there are penalties, and so on.
For this reason, by conducting a risk assessment, and preparing as well as implementing a safety statement and subsequently ensuring that both are kept up to date, employers can reduce the likelihood of incidents and accidents.
The importance associated with both assessments and safety statements include:
- Financial reasons – to prevent significant costs that arise from incidents and accidents such as medical costs, legal fees, insurance costs, and fees paid to COID, amidst others.
- Legal reasons – ensuring a safe and healthy working environment is a legal requirement. Risk assessments and safety statements help employers comply with this obligation.
- Moral and ethical reasons – they are the right thing to do in the interest of health and safety of employees, and all who may visit the premises.
Legal requirements with regards to Risk Assessments and Safety Statements
Employers are legally required to manage health and safety in the workplace so that the likelihood of incidents and accidents, and harm to employees and others, can be reduced and minimised.
Employers are required to:
- Identify hazards and risks
- Carry out a risk assessment indicating hazards and risks with their control measures.
- Prepare a written safety statement
There is a practical purpose to this as it helps employers and other duty holders manage the health and safety of employees, find the balance between the size of health and safety problems and what must be done regarding them.
This is because the system which is implemented must be risk-based and safety measures must be proportionate to the real risks that are involved. Safety measures must also be adequate in eliminating, controlling, or minimising the risk of an injury, incident, or accident.
For the system to be effective, there must be consultation between the employer and their employees, who are required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act to safeguard their own health and safety by being involved with what employers put in place with regards to health and safety.
How does SafetyWallet support its subscribers?
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