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Health and Safety

  • What every worker and employer should know about health and safety in the workplace

      All downloads are provided by the Department of Labour

     

    Legislation

    Regulations

    Other information and guidelines provided by the department of labour

  • A health and safety system or programme generally includes the following elements:

    For more information contact Tinus Boshoff

     

    Element

    Important aspects

     

    SHE policy statement

     

    • Written policy document
    • Displayed and signed by the CEO
    • Review date

     

    Individual responsibilities

    (Appointment letters - set scope of work)

    • Responsibilities of employees
    • Responsibilities of supervisors and first-line supervisors (Section 8(2)(i) appointees)
    • Responsibilities of senior management (Section 16(1) and 16(2) appointees)
    • GMR 2(1) – Supervision of machinery
    • Assistant to GMR 2(1)
    • GMR 4(3) – Shiftsman appointment
    • Responsibilities of safety coordinators
    • Emergency Controller
    • Fire Fighting Co-ordinator
    • Fire Fighter
    • Fire Team Member
    • Fire Fighting Equipment Inspector
    • First Aid Co-ordinator
    • First Aider
    • Incident Investigator
    • Stacking Supervisor
    • Ladder Inspector
    • HCS Co-ordinator
    • Ergonomical Survey Officer
    • Health and Hygiene Co-ordinator
    • Pollution Surveys
    • Work Permit Survey Officer
    • Air Power Tools Inspector
    • Explosive Power Tool Controller
    • Explosive Power Tool Operator
    • Etc.

     

    Health and safety representatives and committees

    • Appointment of representatives (GAR 6 & Section 17 & 18 of OHSA)
    • Establishment of health and safety committees (Section 19 & 20 of OHSA)
    • Appointment of Health & Safety Committee Members
    • Appointment of Chairman Health & Safety Committee
    • Monthly meetings

     

    Risk assessment

    • Baseline Risk Assessments
    • Issue based risk assessment
    • Continuous risk assessment

     

    Safe work procedures

    • After the critical area activities have been identified, standards must be determined to establish safe work procedures.
    • Written procedures or standards needs to be set (SWP’s or SOP’s)

     

    Employee orientation

    Safety awareness should include:

     

    • emergency procedures
    • first aider and location of first aid stations
    • health and safety responsibilities, including those specified by legislation
    • reporting of injuries, unsafe conditions and acts
    • use of personal protective equipment
    • right to refuse hazardous work
    • hazards, including those outside own work area
    • reasons for each health and safety rule
    • each individual’s specific role and responsibilities
    • scope of authority (Job descriptions)

     

    Training

    Training programmes should be established and maintained to address:

     

    • Knowledge and understanding of the organisations safety programmes, rules and procedures as well as each individual’s specific role and responsibilities.
    • Systematic programme of induction and ongoing training for employees and those how may be transferred between divisions, jobs or tasks
    • Training in the handling of risks, hazards and dangers, precautions to be taken and procedures to be followed
    • Training in hazard identification, risk assessment and control
    • Training for all persons who may manage others like employees, contractors and other
    • Training of top management in their role and responsibilities
    • Training and awareness programmes for contractors, temporally workers and visitors according to the level of risk which they will be exposed to,
    • Training in the correct report procedures
    • Training in proper incident/ accident investigation
    • Training in the effective monitoring of the quality of the health and safety programme

     

    Workplace inspections

     

    Regular inspections by:

     

    • Health and Safety Representative
    • Supervisors
    • Where prescribed by regulations

     

    Inspect the workplace to identify hazards related to:

     

    • Regular, planned workplace inspections
    • Equipment inspections
    • Special inspections

     

    Inspection lists – useful tools

     

    Certifications

     

    By Approved Inspection Authority:

     

    • Ventilation surveys
    • Light surveys
    • Dust surveys
    • Noise surveys
    • Lifting equipment
    • Pressure vessels
    • etc

     

    Medicals (pre-medicals, baseline, periodic and exit medicals)

     

     

    Where prescribed by a regulation:

    Noise; heat; dust; chemical exposure; asbestos; lead etc

     

    Reporting, recording and investigating accidents

     

    Reporting to PD:

    • Section 24 - Reportable incidents (WC.I 2)
    • Section 25 – Occupational deceases (WC.l1)

     

    Recording and investigations:

    • GAR 8 & 9
    • Annexure 1

     

    Emergency procedures

     

    Fire precautions and procedures are adequate:

     

    • Building construction
    • Access and egress
    • Emergency exits
    • Emergency lighting
    • Fire fighting appliances (sufficient, appropriate and maintained)
    • Fire drills and alarm checks
    • Storage of flammable/combustible materials (gas cylinders, fuel oils, wood and paper waste)
    • Identification of fire / explosion risk areas and instructions for isolating power, fuel, gas etc.
    • Evacuation procedures and responsibility for roll calls
    • Employee training in procedures and general fire safety practices.

     

    Other emergencies, similar procedures to those for accidents and fire are required for emergencies, to cover such events as:

     

    • Gas leaks
    • Explosions
    • Pressure vessel rupture
    • Building collapse
    • Chemical leaks and spillage
    • Bomb threats

     

    First aid

    • Training of first aiders
    • Provision of first aid boxes
    • Inspection & control of first aid boxes

     

    Safety culture

    Situational aspects:

     

    • Observed through the organisation’s management systems, policies, working procedures, communication flow, etc. and should be measured by audits of safety management systems.

    Behavioural aspects:

    • How people act in the workplace and can be measured through self-reported measures, outcome measures and peer observations

    The psychological component:

     

    • Relates to people’s norms, values, attitudes and perceptions of safety in the workplace
    • The psychological components are commonly measured in the form of a safety climate survey

     

    Contractor management

    • 37(2) Contractors agreements
    • COID registration (letter of good standing)
    • Medical certificates
    • Employee certifications and qualifications (competence)
    • Machinery and equipment checks and certifications
    • Risk assessments for activities

     

    Other elements

    • Handling of Hazardous Chemical Substances(Material Safety Data Sheets)
    • Handling of Hazardous Biological Agents
    • Lock out procedures
    • Hot work permits
    • Material handling rules
    • Maintenance programs
    • Vehicle safety rules
    • Personal protective equipment requirements
    • Engineering standards
    • Purchasing standards
    • Preventive maintenance

     

    Health and safety audits

     

    • Internal audits
    • External audits

     

  • André Claassen and Jan du Toit

     

    Employees arriving at work with alcohol smelling on the breath, employees consuming alcohol during working hours, employees missing days (or even weeks) at work without justification, or with lame and feeble excuses (but never a medical certificate, or perhaps even with a medical certificate every time) and employees slipping out during lunch break “for a quick one” – all this seems to be a problem which is on the increase – with a resulting increase in problems for the employer.

     

    The problem is not restricted only to alcohol; it extends to any substance having a narcotic producing effect. This type of behaviour constitutes misconduct – and all employers should have a company policy in place, that has been communicated to all employees, regulating the consumption of alcohol on company premises, and also off company premises, where it might impact adversely on the employer, the employee, or the employee’s ability to perform his / her duties.

     

    If the employer has no such company policy in place, then that employer has a problem, namely that he cannot take disciplinary action against an employee for breaking a rule that does not exist. We accept that not every rule has to be reduced to writing, on the basis that some rules are so well known that they do not have to be put in writing. But it will greatly complicate matters if there are no such rules in the workplace, and it will make for much smoother sailing if the rules are in place.

     

    The Alcohol Policy must be tailor made to suit each individual company – there is no “standard policy” for this type of thing. For example, the employer would need one set of rules applicable to employees engaged in hazardous occupation – truck drivers, machine or equipment operators, fork truck operators, crane drivers, and so on. The acceptable level of blood alcohol in such persons would be a much lower level than that which would be acceptable in an office worker.

     

    Now before your start shouting “discrimination”, remember that the circumstances demand the approach. For example, an airline pilot who has consumed any alcohol at all in the 24 hour period preceding his next flight is prohibited from carrying out that duty, he is sent home.

     

    An office worker who works for the same airline who has consumed alcohol in the 24 hour period preceding the next shift is not problem, and can attend his/her workplace duties. That is a fair discrimination. In the place of airline pilot substitute truck driver; if the truck driver arrives at work smelling of liquor and the employer allows him to drive and he kills somebody in an accident, the employer could easily be held liable because he gave the driver permission to drive.

     

    The office worker who arrives at work smelling of liquor is another matter altogether he is not endangering life or limb by sitting at his desk and working albeit not at peak efficiency. So an alcohol policy can discriminate fairly between the rules for one class of employee and another class of employee.

     

    If an employer has in place a policy that states that sleeping on duty is a dismissible offence, and the lady who makes the tea is caught sleeping on duty in the kitchen, it doubtful that the employer would successfully defend a claim of unfair dismissal brought by the employee. But if a security guard is caught sleeping on duty, the circumstances are altogether different, and dismissal would in all probability be justified.

     

    Thus the employer must give careful thought to the design and content of his Alcohol Policy. The policy must also contain rules that regulate alcohol consumption off premises during working hours, such as with field sales reps, field technicians, even to the extent of regulating alcohol consumption by managers and executives – business lunches, on the golf course, and so on.

     

    There may be some job categories that carry a high risk for alcohol abuse – such as in the hospitality industry such as barmen, waiters, (waitrons) wine stewards, and people working with alcoholic beverages every day as part of their duties. All these special considerations each require its own unique approach in formulating the rules and regulations, because each has its own unique set of circumstances.

     

    Therefore management is responsible for compiling the Alcohol (& Drug Abuse) Policy and management are responsible to ensure that employees comply. By “management” we refer to every person in a supervisory position who has staff reporting to him.

    The Policy must not be as strict as to make problem employees fearful of coming forward – such a policy will only serve to drive the problem drinkers underground – and this compounds the problem because besides being a problem drinker, the employee becomes a secret drinker as well.

    If the employer wishes to address the problem effectively, then the formulation of the Policy is important and requires input from all levels of management, and a fair amount of policy content will be decided upon from the results of past experience in dealing with the problem.

     

    The Occupational Health and Safety Act; General Regulations and the company policy

    Section 2(a) of the above mentioned regulations state;

     

    2A. Intoxication

    1. 1.Subject to the provisions of sub regulation (3), an employer or a user, as the case may be, shall not permit any person who is or who appears to be under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, to enter or remain at a workplace.
    2. 2.Subject to the provisions of sub regulation (3), no person at a workplace shall be under the influence of or have in his or her possession or partake of or offer any other person intoxicating liquor or drugs.
    3. 3.An employer or a user, as the case may be, shall, in the case where a person is taking medicines, only allow such person to perform duties at the workplace if the side effects of such medicine do not constitute a threat to the health or safety of the person concerned or other persons at such workplace.

    From the general regulations above it is clear that there is a duty on employers to ensure that employees;

    • who appears to be under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs are not allowed to work, enter or remain at the workplace;
    • are not under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs at the workplace;
    • do not have intoxicating liquor or drugs in their possession;
    • do not offer intoxicating liquor or drugs to other employees.

    In other words zero tolerance in that you may not even arrive at work smelling of alcohol that was consumed the night before. To be accused of “having presented for work after having consumed alcohol (or a substance having a narcotic producing affect), or with alcohol smelling on the breath”, the employee does not necessarily have to be plainly intoxicated. He need not necessarily have had to have consumed a sufficient quantity of alcohol so as to have placed him “over the legal limit”.

     

    Being an act of misconduct, it is obvious that dismissal may result if the employee is found guilty after the employer has followed a fair procedure. Thus it is a serious matter and should be dealt with as such but employers are reminded that schedule 8 of the Labour Relations Act prescribes progressive discipline in order to correct that behaviour of the employee. It would therefore be unfair to dismiss an employee the first time he arrives at work smelling of alcohol after a long weekend.

     

    A dismissal may be contemplated in instances where the employee consumes alcohol at the workplace or makes it available to colleagues during working hours, as for the rest we recommend progressive discipline in order to correct the behaviour of the employee. For some strange reason Commissioners very often do not share the passion of employers to have sober employees at the workplace.

     

    Incapacity or misconduct

    Schedule 8 of the Labour Relations Act further recommends that employers should treat situations where it is suspected or known that an employee is the dependent on intoxicating liquor or drugs as incapacity and not misconduct.

     

    The policy (in terms of assistance, counselling, rehabilitation, etc) will only be applied to those employees who have (or who demonstrate that they have) a genuine desire to be helped, and where it can be reasonably concluded that the rehabilitation program will result in success for this employee.

     

    In other words, the employer is not expected to “flog a dead horse.” If an employee undergoes the rehabilitation program as stated in the Alcohol Policy, and later reverts to the old habits, then the end of the road has been reached. The employer does not offer the program again; rather procedures are then followed to secure the fair dismissal of the employee.

     

    Remember, the employer is not in the business of re-habilitating alcoholics, problem drinkers and drug addicts. The employer is only trying to assist those in his employ who have such problems, to the ultimate benefit of both parties.

     

    It is a fact that most persons with such problems will usually, when confronted,  vehemently deny that it is a problem, they will be emphatic that they do not need assistance, and that they can stop any time they wish to. In such cases, the employer cannot force the employee to undergo rehabilitation but he can demand that, since the employee has affirmed that it is no problem and that he/she can stop the drinking (or drugging) immediately, the employee must then stop the habit immediately or undergo the rehabilitation program, or face dismissal.

     

    It must be emphasized that there is no obligation the employer to offer assistance – the Code of Good Practice – Dismissal merely states that the employer should consider the matter.

     

    Thus it is for the employer to decide – and generally, assistance will be offered only to those employees who demonstrate that there is a reasonable chance that rehabilitation will be successful, that the employee genuinely realizes that he has a problem and that he needs help.

     

    Generally, if a person’s drinking habits causes an adverse effect on his home life, his work life (or both), then that person can be said to have a drinking problem. We are more concerned with the problem affecting the workplace and if the employee’s output in terms of quantity or quality is affected, or his attendance record in terms of frequent absenteeism deteriorates, or his use of sick leave (often one day at a time with no medical certificate produced) becomes more frequent, then there may be a problem.

     

    There has been some argument on whether the problem is classed as misconduct in that the employee has broken a rule in the workplace or whether it is classed as incapacity in that the employee is incapable of performing his duties due to the alcohol problem. This is arguable and could be either.

     

    The fact is that what the employer is faced with is a non-performing employee who has a problem that is seriously impacting adversely on the employer’s business, and which is costing the employer money.

     

    The person with a drinking problem is an expert at hiding the problem and will go out of his way to “act sober”. He will be extremely co-operative, willing to undertake any task given to him, even if it is outside the general parameters of his job description. There will also be frequent absences from the work-station, with dozens of different excuses to justify this, weak bladder or bladder infection, upset stomach, bad headache, and so on. These absences are of course “drink breaks” or symptoms of overindulge the night before. Very often the problem is compounded because the employee’s immediate supervisor, while suspecting that “something is going on”, very often ignores his suspicions, overlooks (condones?) the frequent absences from the workstation, or even ignores the increasing absences from the workplace for a day or even 2 days at a time.

     

    He also ignores other warning signals, that the employee’s absence always occurs on a Monday, and that he is never available for Saturday overtime. Another problem is that co-workers often will cover up for the errant employee making excuses for him when his absence is questioned by the supervisor and not realizing that by covering up they are in fact making his problem worse.

     

    Whatever the case, the problem must not be overlooked. Further, it is one of those problems that cannot be treated gently; “I will have a chat with him” does not work. The problem is serious, and must be seriously addressed. There are a number of options open to the employer on how to address the issue, some of which may be straight disciplinary action, a written (or even final written) warning, or the employer may choose to follow a procedure of counselling, offering assistance to the employee, and so on.

     

    Another perplexing aspect is that the problem may be caused, not so much by the employees drinking on the job or intoxication at work, but rather by drinking and intoxication off premises and outside of working hours, with the employee being stone cold sober during working hours.

    So what do you do when you find that you have an employee who may be an alcoholic, but who certainly has a drinking problem which is affecting his work or the workplace? Firstly, get as much information as possible from his supervisor, or line manager;

    • how a long has the problem persisted?
    • specifically in what way is it affecting the job processes?
    • how frequently is he absent or late because of this problem?
    • how frequently does he go off sick?

    Build up all the information that you possibly can, and then write the employee a letter inviting him to attend a meeting to address issues regarding his performance. Remember this is not a disciplinary hearing; it is a case of incapacity (poor performance).

    The meeting will be attended by the employee’s line manager or supervisor, and a senior manager to act as Chairperson. At the meeting, present to the employee all the facts that you have at your disposal. Discuss each one in turn, and explain how this is affecting his performance and the job processes in general. Keep careful and detailed notes of the proceedings.

     

    The employee must explain why he is failing to achieve the required work performance standards and he must justify his absenteeism, late-coming, and so on.

     

    Eventually the discussion will turn to the drinking problem. Occasionally, the employee will admit straight out that he has a problem and that he needs help. Try to establish the reasons for the drinking. He may have financial problems, he may be involved in a messy divorce, children not doing well at school, illness of a loved one, anything like that or it may even be a work related problem.

     

    Most often, the employee will deny that the drinking is a problem. The typical response is that “it is not a problem, sure I enjoy my odd drink or two after work, but I can stop any time I wish to”. If you get that sort of response, then you reply by stating “we are very pleased to hear that it is not a problem for you and that you can stop any time you wish to. We now require that you stop drinking immediately, and we require an immediate improvement in your attendance and late-coming”.

     

    All of this must be carefully recorded, as well as details of what the employee has undertaken to do to fix the problem of his poor performance. This must be communicated to the employee in writing, together with a date by which he must comply with whatever has been agreed to, and a warning stating that should he fail to achieve the required work performance standard by (allow a reasonable time – say one month) then further procedures will follow which may lead to his dismissal.

     

    Employers can seek the advice of organizations such as SANCA (The South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction) or Alcoholics Anonymous or similar organizations, to gain advice and information on formulating a policy, the do’s and don’ts of handling alcoholism in the workplace, and so on.

     

    It must be remembered that the employee’s family also plays a very big part in all this, and consultation (or counselling) with the employee’s spouse could well form a very big part in the process.

     

    For information contact

     


  • The Compensation Fund (CF), a public entity of the Department of Labour (DoL) has managed to raise R4-billon in revenue in the period ending 31 March 2012. Though revenue raised was R1-billion short of its set target of R5-billion, the Fund remained upbeat of its future as a number of projects were underway to improve operational efficiencies.

     

    Addressing the Compensation Fund board meeting held at the Fund’s head office in Pretoria this week, newly-appointed chief financial officer Brian Leshnick said the target was not achieved due to the implementation of a new financial system using a new information technology system, problems posed by delays in assessing returns thus causing a domino effect.

     

    Leshnick cited the other reason caused by internal issues relating to technology which caused delays in obtaining of returns and assessing them.

     

    The CF has recently announced it has launched a web-based registration of employers. Through this electronic platform called Return of Earnings (ROE) for employer assessments the Fund is aching to increase revenue collection.

     

    “The potential of RoE is enormous. Last week in just four days we managed to collect R46-million. This new system of collection shows there is a big demand for it. The quick turnaround time present huge value to the Fund, and we hope business will appreciate such a quick turn-around of their invoice,” Leshnick said, another project was a pilot to scan and create immediate invoice and the pilot has so far proved a success.

     

    “From an overall expenditure perspective the expectation is that, as we pick up on the backlogs and assessments we will see a rise in revenue. There is also the secondary issue of employers who have not submitted returns. We also has got another project underway, where we are working with SARS tapping into their database and expect to yield results”, Leshnick said.

     

    He said there are internal issues that keep on creeping in the system from time to time, however these could be addressed in a piece meal fashion. We do not have a magic button to press. We have a number of different initiatives to address to make major changes,” he said.

     

    Although no substantive financial report was tabled at the board meeting, a special meeting is to be scheduled to table a detailed report. The board through its chairman Mongezi Mngqibisa committed itself to submission of detailed financial report as part of proper governance.

     

    The Compensation Fund is also in a process of a major reorganisation including amendment of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act. This reorganisation relates to the decentralisation of the CF’s activities into the provinces instead of centralising everything at the Pretoria head office.

     

    The Fund and one union Nehawu have signed what is termed Migration Framework and the process was now awaiting the signatures of Popcru and Public Service Association.

     

    Meanwhile, tabling the CF’s Audit & Risk Committee report to the meeting, board member Fani Xaba cautioned that: “there are still many fires to be extinguished”. Xaba said the Compensation Fund was still exposed to unforeseen risks.

     

    The report he tabled before the board highlighted on audit of performance information, fixed assets, auxiliary services, information technology general controls review and, legal services. The focus was to look on the adequacy and effectiveness of controls relating to these processes, ensuring that management’s control strategies are consistent with the activities and objectives.

      

    “Our internal audit review found that the majority of internal controls within the mentioned business processes seem to be inadequate and ineffective, resulting in critical and serious risk exposure,” Xaba warned.

     

    The board also acknowledged that although the backlog has been reduced in the mailroom, it has been its ‘Achilles heel’. 

     

    Issued by: Department of Labour: 25 May 2012

     

  • (''Draft Amendment to the Construction Regulations, 2003'')


    On 11 May 2010 the new ''Draft Amendment to the Construction Regulations, 2003'' was published through the Government Gazette (Notice 391 of 2010). One of the key principles embodied in the draft regulations is that the ''client'' will primarily be responsible for Occupational Health and Safety.

                          
    But what is meant by the term ''client''? According to definition a "client" is any person for whom construction work is performed.Various persons like property owners, landlords, body corporate(s), most business owners etc could thus be classified as clients.

                            
    According to scope, these regulations will apply to all persons involved in construction work.Construction work on the other hand means any work in connection with:

    • the construction, erection, alteration, renovation, repair, demolition or dismantling of or addition to a building or any similar structure; or
    • the construction, erection, maintenance, demolition or dismantling of any bridge, dam, canal, road, railway, runway, sewer or water reticulation; or the moving of earth, clearing of land, the making of excavation, piling, system or any similar civil engineering structure or any similar type of work.

                         

    Based on Regulation 1&2 of the Construction Regulations (OHSA)

                         
    Our news letter will largely focus on the proposed amendments of the responsibilities of the client, again the person for whom construction work is performed.

                      
    Regulation 4(1) stipulates that the client will be obligated to prepare a baseline risk assessment for the intended construction work project. The type of assessment is basically performed to obtain a benchmark of the types and size of potential hazards, which could have a significant impact on the whole project. The client needs to identify the major and significant risks, then prioritise these risks and evaluate the effectiveness of current systems for risk control.

                                  

    The baseline is an initial risk assessment that focuses on a broad overview in order to determine the risk profile to be used in subsequent risk assessments. The assessment focuses on the identification of risk that applies to the whole project and site. This type of assessment could be performed on a site, region or even on a national basis concerning any facet of the organisation operations or procedures. The assessment needs to be comprehensive and may even lead to other and more in-depth studies.

                                      

    According to the proposed regulations the client will also be obligated to prepare the ''health and safety specifications''. Health and safety specification means a site, activity or project specific document of all health and safety requirements pertaining to the associated works on a specific construction site, so as to ensure the health and safety of persons on or near the site. According to regulation 4 the client should ensure that specs is suitable, sufficiently documented and site specific for the intended construction work and it should be based on the above mentioned baseline risk assessment.

                                 
    The specifications must then be provided to the designer, the client will even be obligated to ensure that the designer takes the prepared health and safety specification into consideration. Similarly the client must ensure that as far as reasonably practicable the services of an approved inspection authority is utilized to give into input at the early design stage and where such an authority has not been appointed at that stage, he or she must be given the opportunity to make an input at a later stage.

                                       
    The ''health and safety specification'' must be included in the tender documents; and the client must ensure that potential ''principal contractors'' submitting tenders have made adequate provision for the cost of health and safety measures. ''Principal contractor" means an employer who performs construction work and is appointed by the client to be in overall control and management of a part of or the whole of a construction site.

                                            

    The client should ensure the following concerning the principle contractor:

    • that potential principal contractor to be appointed has the necessary competencies and resources to carry out the construction work safely.
    • ensure prior to work commencing on site that every principal contractor is registered and in good standing with the compensation fund or with a licensed compensation insurer prior to work commencing on site as contemplated in the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (Act No. 130 of 1993);
    • ensure prior to work commencing on site that every principal contractor is registered and in good standing with the Unemployment Insurance Fund, as contemplated in the Unemployment Insurance Act (Act No. 63 OF 2001);
    • appoint each principal contractor in writing for the project or part thereof on a construction site;
    • discuss and negotiate with the principal contractor the content of the principal contractor's health and safety plan and must thereafter finally approve that plan for implementation. Health and safety plan means a documented plan which addresses identified hazards and includes safe work procedures and other measures to mitigate, reduce or control the identified hazards (addressed in regulation 5(1) of the draft regulations);
    • ensure that no construction work commences until the principal contractor's health and safety plan has been approved;
    • ensure that a copy of the principal contractors' health and safety plan is available on request of an employee, inspector or contractor;
    • ensure that the principal contractor's health and safety plan is implemented and maintained on the construction site;
    • the steps taken must include periodic health and safety audits at intervals mutually agreed upon between the client and principal contractor, but at least every 14 days;
    • ensure that a copy of the audit report (contemplated in regulation 29(3)(d)) is provided to the principal contractor within seven days after the audit;
    • stop any contractor from executing construction work which is not in accordance with the clients health and safety specifications and the principal contractors health and safety plan for the site or which poses a threat to the health and safety of persons;
    • ensure that where changes are brought about to the design or construction, sufficient health and safety information and appropriate resources are made available to the principal contractor to execute the work safely; and
    • ensure that the health and safety is kept as maintained by the principal contractor (contemplated in regulation 5(1)(b)).

                             

    Based on Regulation 4(1) of the Construction Regulations (OHSA)

    Where the client requires additional work to be performed as a result of a design change or as a result of an error in construction due to the actions of the client, the client must ensure that sufficient safety information and appropriate additional resources are available to execute the required work safely.

                           
    Based on Regulation 4(2) of the Construction Regulations (OHSA)

    Where a fatality or permanent disabling injury occurs on a construction site, the client must provide the provincial director with a full report as directed by the inspector who is conducting the investigation under section 24 of the Act, and must include the measures that the client intends to implement within 30 days to ensure a safe construction site as far as is reasonably practicable.

                                         
    Based on Regulation 4(3) of the Construction Regulations (OHSA)

    A client may, without derogating from his responsibilities or liabilities, appoint a ''competent person'' in writing as an ''agent'' to act as his or her representative, and where such an appointment is made the duties that are imposed by these regulations upon a client, shall as far as is reasonably practicable apply to the agent so appointed. An "agent" means any competent person who acts as a representative for a client in managing the overall construction work performed for that client.

                                

    Remember that the agent must be a competent person. According to definition a ''competent person" means any person having the knowledge, training, experience and/or where applicable qualifications specific to the work or task being performed: Provided that where appropriate qualifications and training are registered in terms of the provisions of the South African Qualifications Authority Act, 1995 (Act No. 58 of 1995), those qualifications and training must be regarded as required qualifications and training; or declared competent by an accredited assessor or institution.

    Based on Regulation 4(4) of the Construction Regulations (OHSA)

                                           
    I trust that the above mentioned information would be helpful.

    Safety greetings

    Tinus Boshoff

  •            

    Terms ''suitable and sufficient''

     

    The term risk assessment is very open to interpretation and can cause a lot of uncertainty. It's intended to allow you some flexibility; a risk assessment doesn't have to be overcomplicated. Risk assessment should be suitable and sufficient. But what is meant by the terms ''suitable and sufficient''? These two terms are not defined in legislation. In order to have a better understanding of these terms we need to have a look at the dictionary descriptions.

    '' suitable ''

    • Suitable for the desired purpose;
    • Meant or adapted for an occasion or use;
    • Appropriate for a condition or occasion.

                                 

    ''sufficient''

    • Of a quantity that can fulfil a need or requirement but without being abundant.

                        

    Suitable and sufficient risk assessment. When taking the above mentioned descriptions into considerations it means the following: 

                                 
    (a) Knowledgeable - We need to be knowledgeable of the hazard and its associated risk. Considering those risks which are likely to arise because of work and work activities. 

                    

    (b) The risk assessment should be suitable for the desired purpose.A suitable program or method of assessment associated with any hazard should be used to identify the steps needed to be taken to remove, reduce or control such hazard (Examples: HIRA; Task risk assessments, Process hazard analysis, HAZOP etc)

                          

    (c) The risk assessment should be meantor adaptedfor an occasion or use. The assessment should consider those risks which are likely to arise because of work and wok activities.

                        

    (d) The risk assessment should be appropriate for a condition or occasion

    It should enable the development and implementation of action(s), when appropriate, of systems to manage risk. It should also be appropriate to the nature of the work so that it remains valid for a reasonable period of time. Your assessment should enable the development and implementation of action(s), where appropriate, of systems to manage the risk. Your assessment should be appropriate to the nature of the work so that it remains valid for a reasonable period of time.

               

    (e) The risk assessment should be ''sufficient''

    Fulfilling the specific need or requirement but without being abundant, thus meeting the obligated need. In general this implies that the employer needs to take reasonable measures to safeguard employees and others wherever possible, but without stretching to excessive costs. It should be appropriate to your particular business and work activities, remember a risk assessment doesn't have to be overcomplicated. This will enable the risk assessment process and the significant findings to be used positively e.g. to change working procedures.

  • TInus Boshoff

    For the purpose of this article we will focus on three types of risk assessments:

     

    • Baseline risk assessments (Baseline HIRA)
    • Issue based risk assessments (Issue based HIRA)
    • Continues risk assessments (Continues HIRA)

     Baseline risk assessments (Baseline HIRA)

     

    Purpose of abaseline risk assessment

     

    The purpose of conducting a baseline HIRA is to establish a risk profile or a set of risk profiles. It is used to prioritise action programmes for issue-based risk assessments.

     

    It should be performed to obtain a benchmark of the types and size of potential hazards, which could have a significant impact on the whole organisation. They need to identify the major and significant risks, then prioritise these risks and evaluate the effectiveness of current systems for risk control.

     

    It must be emphasised that the baseline is an initial risk assessment that focuses on a broad overview in order to determine the risk profile to be used in subsequent risk assessments. A baseline risk assessment focuses on the identification of risk that applies to the whole organisation or project.

     

    This type of assessment could be performed on a site, region or even on a national basis concerning any facet of the organisation operations or procedures. This assessment needs to be comprehensive and may even lead to other and more in-depth studies.

     

    The output of a baseline risk assessment

     

    • it is a risk profile or set of risk profiles; and
    • it is a clear description of the methodology, system, terminology etc. used in the scoping exercise, and what may be required for the improvement of the baseline HIRA in the future.

     

    Examples of baseline risk assessments

     

    • Hygiene and Health Surveys (Noise, Lighting, Ventilation, Temperature Extremes)
    • Environmental Impact and Aspect Registers
    • Fire Risk Assessments

     

    Issues based risk assessment (Issue based HIRA)

     

    Purpose of anissue based risk assessment

     

    The purpose of conducting an issue-based HIRA is to conduct a detailed assessment study that will result in the development of action plans for the treatment of significant risk.

     

    This type of assessment is normally focused on at operational activities, processes and systems based business functions. It focuses the identification of the risks within a certain task, process or activity and is usually associated with the management of change.

    Risk profiles from the baseline HIRA form the basis for establishing issue-based

    HIRA programmes.

     

    The issue-based HIRA programme can be modified when necessary due to, for example:

     

    The output of a an issue-based risk assessment

     

    The output of an issue-based HIRA is clear recommendations to management for further action in terms of Section 11(2) of the MHSA.

     

    Examples of issues based risk assessments

     

    • A new machine is introduced at the site
    • A system of work or an operations is changed
    • After an accident or a 'near-miss' has occurred
    • new designs, layouts, equipment, or processes, etc
    • Task risk assessments
    • findings that come to the fore during continuous HIRA
    • requests from employees
    • a change in the risk profile
    • new knowledge and information becoming available on the level of risk to employees
    • Process hazard analysis
    • Environmental impact assessments
    • Major hazardous installations risk assessments
    • HAZOP (Hazard And Operability Study)

     

    Continuous risk assessment (Continues HIRA)

     

    Purpose of acontinuous risk assessment

     

    The purpose of conducting continuous HIRA is to:

     

    • identify hazards with the purpose of immediately treating
    • significant risks;
    • gather information to feed back to issue-based HIRA; and
    • gather information to feed back to baseline HIRA.

     

    Output of acontinuous risk assessment

     

    A continuous risk assessment should be conducted on a continuous basis in the work environment. It is a powerful and important form of assessment and should take place continually, as an integral part of day to day management. In continuous HIRA, the emphasis is on day to day hazard awareness, through HIRA, and immediate risk treatment.

    In developing hazard awareness, memory joggers such as inspection checklists, pre-use checklists, and critical part and paths checklists, can be produced from management controls that are a product of issue-based HIRA. Planned Task Observations could also be conducted on an ongoing basis.

     

    It is performed at an operational level, where the system, process and activities are monitored on a continuous basis by the operational floor management and first line supervisors. It must not be sophisticated and should mainly be conducted by first line supervisors.

     

    Formal training in this regard is essential. The main emphasis is on “hazard awareness through hazard identification”.

     

    Examples of continuous risk assessment

     

    Hazardous activities need to undergo this type of risk assessment prior to the conducting of the activity and can include:

     

    • Inspections
    • Critical task observations
    • OHS audits
    • Work permits
    • Toolbox talks
    • Medical surveillance
    • Occupational hygiene measurements
    • Planned maintenance systems

     

    For more information contact Tinus Boshoff

  • The Department of Labour’s (DoL) Compensation Fund paid over R2.7-billion in the 2010/2011 in compensation for injuries and diseases sustained in the workplace in the five high risk sectors, a conference was told.

     

    Department of Labour director for Electrical & Chemical Engineering Jacob Malatse, delivering a speech on behalf of DoL’s Deputy Director-General: Inspection & Enforcement Services (IES) Siyanda Nxawe said the cost of non-adherence to occupational health and safety to the economy was dire.

    “While our endeavour is to protect vulnerable workers, monitoring the impact of legislation, South Africa continue to be plagued by lack of adherence to occupational health and safety. People continue to die and many succumb to occupational injuries. The loss of work-time because of hazards means a loss of income, a decline in gross domestic product (GDP) and a cost to the country,” Malatse warned.

     

    Malatse was addressing the DoL’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) conference aimed at improving workplace health and safety. The four-day conference is being held at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Boksburg under the theme: “Road to Zero”.

     

    According to DoL problematic sectors which accounted for huge compensation fund claims include iron and steel more than R427.5-million; the Air Road Transport more than R363-million; building and construction more than R287-million; agriculture more than R188; and chemical sector more than R105-million.

     

    “As employers we should not forget our commitment to OHS. We signed the accord and should adhere to it all the times. We have started interventions on the policy front. We will by end of this month start effecting amendments of the OHS Act. We want to ensure that by the end of the 2012/13 the process is complete,” he said.

     

    He said as part of a drive to stem the tide of hazardous workplaces, there would also be a review of amendment to regulations. In addition to policy, he said the Department would continue with its work of inspections and blitzes, programmes on advocacy, research and training.

     

    “Government needs to take a leadership role and set up high standards to ensure safety is maintained,” he said “Despite the challenges we are on the road to zero. We need to work as partners to achieve the road to zero. We will continue to use izimbizos by the Minister to build a culture of prevention, whose benefits are substantive”.

     

    International Labour Organisation (ILO) executive Director for east and Southern
    Africa executive director Vic van Vuuren said the world has lost the plot when it comes to protecting workers in the workplace. He said profits seem to take precedence. Van Vuuren said there was a need to move back to morals and values of workplace.

     

    Van Vuuren emphasized the importance of prevention to spur human life.

     

    “The economic crisis has impacted negatively to OHS since 2008. With the global economic crisis expected to deteriorate, adherence to OHS is expected to suffer as a result,” he cautioned also that the use of migtrant workers has become a global issue. He said continued global employment has subjected migrant workers to severe working conditions in the form of dirtry, dangerous and demanding working conditions.

     

    The conference will be wrapped-up on Friday with a keynote address by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, whose paper will focus on interventions to reduce injuries and diseases in South Africa. – ENDS

     

    MEDIA RELEASE

    Issued By Department of Labour

    07-March-2012

     

     

  • Fanie de Swart

     

    On 11 May 2010 the new ''Draft Amendment to the Construction Regulations, 2003'' was published through the Government Gazette for public comment (Notice 391 of 2010). If the new amendments are accepted, it could have a huge impact not only on the construction industry in South Africa but to most business and property owners as well.

     

    Most people are under the impression that the construction regulations are only applicable to the construction industry itself, thus reasoning that the above mentioned changes will not have an effect on them. Be careful not to make a mistake in this regard. In order to clarify the issue, we need to look at the meaning of the term ''construction work''? According to the definition, if any of the following activities takes place on your premise or are performed by any of your employees, it is deemed to be construction work:

    • the construction, erection, maintenance, alteration, renovation, repair, demolition, or dismantling of or addition to a building or any similar structure; or
    • the construction, erection, maintenance, demolition, or dismantling of any bridge, dam, canal, road, railway, runway, sewer or water reticulation; or the moving of earth, clearing of land, the making of an excavation, piling, system or any similar type of work."

     

    It is clear from the definition that a lot of everyday activities like maintenance, alteration, renovation forms part of ''construction work''. The Construction regulations will not only be applicable to the construction industry but most business as well as property owners. Regulation 2 of the amended regulations stipulates that these regulations will be applicable to ''... all persons in construction work''.

     

    With this in mind, let's have a look at some of the important changes that could take place. The client, in other words ''any person for whom construction work is performed'', shall according to the new amendments, be responsible for a large number of added obligations.

     

    These new responsibilities include duties like, applying for a ''permit'' to do construction work, the carrying out of a base line risk assessment, prepare a suitable, sufficiently documented and site specific health and safety specifications for the intended construction based on the previously mentioned baseline risk assessment, ensure that the designer takes the health and safety requirements into consideration, ensure that the services of a approved inspection authority is used at the early design stage or later stage, include the health and safety specifications in the tender documents, ensure that the principal contractor made adequate provision for the cost of health and safety in tenders, ensure that all contractors on site are registered with the Compensation Commissioner, ensure that UIF registration was completed, ensure that the reporting of section 24 fatalities and disabling injuries are done to the Provisional Director, ensure that specific requirements are set for agents, ensure that specific requirements are set for the construction supervision, just to mention a few.

     

    The ''Draft Amendments'' also includes changes to a number of definitions as well as several of the construction regulations.

     

    One of the biggest changes proposed by these regulations includes the application to perform construction work. The client will need to apply for a ''permit" in order to get permission for the provincial director before certain kinds or types of construction work may be performed. This includes construction work where it:

    • exceed 30 days or will involve more than 300 person days of construction work
    • includes excavation work
    • includes working at a height where there is a risk of falling
    • includes the demolition of a structure
    • includes the use of explosives to perform construction

     

    The client should apply at least fourteen days before the commencement of the above mentioned construction work. The application to the provincial director must be done on the ''Annexure 1 form'' attached to the amended regulations. Please note that certain criteria should be met before a permit will be granted to a client. The required conditions are mentioned in regulation 4 of the amended regulations.

     

    The permit contains a site specific number for each construction site. The unique number, allocated by the provincial director, should be displayed at the main entrance to the site for which the number was issued. The client is compelled to ensure that the principal contractor keeps a copy of the permit in the occupational health and safety file.

     

    I am sure that the proposed changes raise a number of questions and concerns. Will the provincial director be able to handle added administrative burden? Will the Chief Inspector have enough inspectors to actually monitor and enforce the new amendments?

    Well as the saying goes, only time will tell.

     

    For more information contact Fanie de Swardt or Tinus Boshoff  

  • Employers must be very careful to take steps to know what their liability is towards their employees.

     

     

    One of the employer's liabilities is to provide a safe and healthy working environment for the employees.

     

    This does not only mean a safe environment in terms of bodily injury or accidents - it also means a safe environment in terms of other things like sexual harassment.

     

    Employers must take steps to protect their employees against such happenings in the workplace.

     

    In Media 24 Ltd & another v Grobler [2005] 7 BALLR 649 (SCA),an employee had been sexually harassed by a junior manager over a period of five months.

     

    At the time that the alleged sexual harassment took place, the complainant was a 33-year-old secretary employed by the employer. The accused was at that time a trainee manager employed by the employer.

     

    It was alleged by the complainant that the employer had failed to address the issue, despite her requests for him to do so, had failed to act despite the fact that it was common knowledge that the junior manager was sexually harassing her, that's the employer failed to deal with the allegations of sexual harassment seriously and expeditiously, and permitted the accused wide latitude in his conduct towards his subordinates, in particular, the complainant.

     

    There were also other issues, but the above is the crux of the matter.

     

    It was also alleged that there was a romantic affair between the complainant and the accused at some stage, and that the final incident leading up to the whole matter of the court action actually occurred off the workplace premises, which cause the employer to allege that it therefore had nothing to do with the workplace.

     

    This was a very involved matter, which went from the Cape High Court to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

     

    It was found that there was a negligent breach by the employer of a legal duty to its employees to create and maintain a working environment in which, amongst other things, its employees were not sexually harassed by other employees in their working environment.

     

    It was also found that an employer has a common law duty to its employees to take reasonable care for their safety,  and also found that this duty cannot be confined to an obligation to take reasonable steps to protect employees only from physical harm caused by what may be called physical hazards.

     

    The view of the court was that this duty also included a duty of the employer to protect employees from psychological harm, caused for example by sexual harassment by another employee.

     

    The employee who was sexually harassed in this matter was awarded damages of R776,814 -00.

     

    Employers must know therefore that ignoring a legal duty such as this can prove to be very costly because apart from this huge award of compensation, there is also the aspect of legal and other costs which must be borne by the employer - all of which could have been avoided had the employer he only take notice of the complaints, and taken action in terms of the employee's complaints.

     

    For further information, contact

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