Occupational Hygiene | Avoiding Health and Safety Hazards

Employers Have Much to Gain by Prioritising Occupational Hygiene


South Africa’s Occupational Health and Safety Act addresses the potential dangers to staff whilst at work and the need for occupational hygiene programmes. This timely legislation cited employers as those responsible for dealing with the many hidden hazards in the working environment that could expose their staff to the risk of injury or illness.


Some employers might view this requirement as an imposition and an added burden on their bottom line. However, they should be aware that complying with the act’s requirements can be of as much benefit to them as it is to their employees.


Absence from work is a significant issue in South Africa. The national absenteeism rate ranges from 3,5% to 6%, which means a business with just 50 staff members stands to lose between 400 and 750 productive working days annually. Collectively, absentees have been estimated to cost the nation’s economy as much as R16 billion every year.


How Occupational Hygiene Measures Can Benefit All


Occupational Hygiene

Seasonal colds and flu are a fact of life, and a few will inevitably insist on taking full advantage of their paid sick leave entitlement. Nevertheless, taking the necessary steps to protect your employees from workplace hazards is an investment that can pay dividends daily.


The process starts with a workplace survey by an occupational hygiene specialist whose task is to locate any physical, chemical or biological hazards present, assess the degree of danger they pose, recommend effective countermeasures where indicated, and arrange follow-up visits to monitor their impact.


Adhering to those recommendations can offer employers the following valuable benefits:


  • Improved productivity: Employees who are excessively tired or suffering pain due to hours of stretching, bending or lifting when doing their job become less productive and are more likely to make mistakes or suffer accidents. Lung ailments caused by airborne particles or noxious gases are equally debilitating, while noise-induced hearing loss is the most common source of industrial compensation claims. Eliminating the hazards responsible for illness and injuries will help make your workforce more productive.


  • Reduced social and healthcare costs: If a worker should suffer a disabling work-related injury or illness, a company could be liable for paying up to 75% of the absent, non-productive employee’s salary for decades. Invariably, the company will also incur the additional expense of recruiting, training and paying the salary of a replacement.


  • Greater staff loyalty: Companies that pay scant attention to their employees’ health and safety tend to experience high staff turnover rates and must cope with the ongoing cost of replacement. However, demonstrating one’s concern visibly through an occupational hygiene programme can help ease fears of injuries and ill health and generate staff loyalty.


  • Protect the company image: We live in the age of social media, where very little can remain secret for long. Today, an employee concerned about the high incidence of musculoskeletal disorders or accidents among colleagues might not hesitate to express those concerns publicly on social media platforms, which could seriously damage a company’s public image.


Arrange an Occupational Hygiene Inspection


IOH Solutions is certified by the Department of Labour and accredited to perform health and safety workplace inspections. Why not get in touch to book our services to ensure your company and its employees are adequately protected?