One of the worst things that can happen in any workplace is someone getting injured, falling ill or dying as a direct result of the physical work environment. Health and safety legislation place responsibility on businesses to protect employees and individuals who visit their business/es, which includes customers, contractors, suppliers and other members of the public. A company’s reputation can receive a damaging blow while facing legal, financial and ethical consequences if found to be in breach of any regulations (i.e. Construction regulations, 2014) or sections stipulated within the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993.
Health and safety in the workplace thus refers to the collective behaviours, procedures, guidelines and programmes that must be implemented and followed daily to protect the safety, welfare and health at a place of employment. When adhered to, these procedures can help to prevent accidents and reduce the risk of employee injury and illness.
All industries have different kinds of risks and hazards, the most common being, Biological, Physical, Ergonomic, Chemical and Psychological. A retailer that sells t-shirts may have different safety risks than that of a coal mine, thus it is imperative for business executives and employees across all levels within the company hierarchy to be aware of risks, and the part that they play in ensuring the safety of those around them.
The obligation to uphold Occupational Health and Safety also applies to self-employed individuals, such as electricians, plumbers, painters and any person whose job brings them into contact with members of the public.
At a fundamental level, Occupational Health and Safety in the Workplace requires all businesses to:
- Promote and maintain the highest level of health for every employee, both temporary and permanent, across all occupations.
- Prevent poor employee health and absences from work caused by workplace conditions, both physical, social and cultural.
- Create open health and safety communication channels to build a better culture of health and safety
- Protect workers from workplace factors that affect their health
- Reduce stress and improving morale through safer and healthier working conditions
- Assess workplace environments and adapt them to support an employee’s physical and mental capabilities
To view the comprehensive South African Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, click here
SafetyCloud offers a range of online courses that help businesses of all sizes meet the requirements of Health and Safety compliance in South Africa. Our courses cover diverse areas of focus, from understanding the basics of the Occupational Health and Safety Act; the implementation and completion of risk assessments within a business, to gaining a full understanding of various legal liability principles. Further to this, SafetyCloud offers supervisory and management courses which includes our flagship course SAMTRAC, various NEBOSH Certificates, safety for supervisors and much more. All study materials are available virtually and learners can complete their training in their location of choice, giving them premium convenience and flexibility. View our course range here.