South Africa is a mixed bag when it comes to occupational health and safety management. In some arenas and by many metrics we score well, yet with construction and mining being just two of the extensive and potentially dangerous pursuits considered essential to our economy, we can’t avoid their associated risks either. South African legislation governing workplace duties, responsibilities, and conduct is extensive, and it’s designed to shield workers from harm, and companies from liability costs, too.
The precautionary legislation designed around occupational safety particularly, has become the first choice of measures for both government and the private sector to implement. When dealing with the fallout from dangerous working conditions, the typical employer, as well as legal bodies dealing with complaints, injuries and deaths, will first look at how the preventative legislation was applied.
Getting Health and Safety Management Right – An Essential Task
Health and safety management varies greatly, based on the industry risk profile within which managers operate. Work health might be easy to ensure, and safety concerns might be negligible in, for example, the average office environment. Not so in industries like mining, construction, fishing, agriculture, chemical processing, fuel, and many others.
Here, heavy machinery and hazardous goods are daily inputs, and management becomes more extensive and constant. The mandated annual workplace risk assessment is the place to begin, when looking for both potential causes as well as remedies for handling dangerous goods or working in dangerous conditions. Health and safety management is above all a responsible and ethical pursuit – the assessment allows management to accident-proof premises by following logical steps to limit risks.
Some South African employers tend to downplay safety regulations, failing to issue PPE to staff, much less training them in its correct application. The horror of liability, and the potential costs from lost productivity and labour malcontent are sufficient reason to ensure compliance.
Let’s Talk Health and Safety Management
Familiarity is a difficult phenomenon to counteract, too, where workers become complacent about PPE and mandated protocols for handling goods or safe workplace behaviour. Between the employer and the employee, both have a responsibility to familiarise themselves with the legal requirements around workplace safety.
While it might seem tedious, open discussions between staff and management are a consistently great route to enabling higher standards. Staff feel that they are operating in an environment that cares about their wellbeing, while management can have the surety that relevant knowledge has been imparted. Rather let familiarity be with health and safety protocols than let it manifest as complacency in the workspace.
Regularly talking about health and safety will lower your workplace incidents and instil the right ethos in employees. Of prime importance, too, is their preparedness for emergencies. An emergency plan formed around the exact nature of any possible accident or potentially dangerous event needs to be designed and agreed upon by everyone on the premises.
Let IOH Solutions Be the First Line of Defence
When it comes to occupational health, safety, and even hygiene, call on IOH Solutions to be your partner on the issues that matter. Fully accredited, we offer comprehensive workplace health and safety services, and you can rely on us to keep the wheels turning without incident.