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    Importance of Health & Safety Representative Training

    Importance of Health & Safety Representative Training

    It is essential for organisations wishing to meet OHSAS 18001 requirements to make use of the expertise offered by health and safety consultants such as WWISE. Such consultants can help to perform GAP analyses for the sake of identifying shortcomings and areas in which improvements are needed. They are also able to identify the training needs of health and safety representatives of the organisations, assist in strategy development and management system integration, internal and external audits and setting up of maintenance programmes to ensure on-going improvement through regular management reviews.

    Why Employers Must Send Employees for Health & Safety Representative Training

    The employer has the duty to implement proper training of health and safety representatives to ensure that they can carry out their duties effectively. Part of their job functions is to perform regular inspections, conduct audits, investigate incidents, attend health and safety meetings, make recommendations regarding prevention of health and safety incidents, and identify potential risks and hazards.

    The health and safety representatives may review the measures in place for health and safety and report on their effectiveness, investigate the causes of incidents and make recommendations regarding them. They have the right to visit incident sites, form part of internal auditing processes, and to accompany health and safety inspectors. They also have the right to attend formal inquiries to incidents and to inspect documents regarding incidents relating to health and safety issues.

    Health and safety consultants provide services such as the training of representatives and the setting up of training programmes to, for instance, address baseline risk assessments and the manner in which to conduct such as assessments.

    What is a Baseline Risk Assessment?

    It is an assessment to determine the set of risk profiles in order to priorities for action plans. Such assessments must be completed in order to set a standard for the various types of hazards, which could negatively affect the enterprise. A part of the assessment entails the identification of highly significant risks and then prioritising the identified risks with the purpose of being able to assess the effectiveness of the risk management systems in place. We can describe this type of risk assessment as the initial phase of risk assessment as it focuses on risks affecting and entire project or enterprise.

    Issue-based Risk Assessment

    Following the baseline risk assessment the next assessment is issue-focussed with the aim of getting detailed information for developing relevant action programmes for specific important risks. The assessment is aimed at operational, business systems and process risks to identify risks associated with particular activities, processes or functions.

    Continued Risk Assessment

    Next in line is the continued risk assessment that has the purpose of identifying hazards, important risks, information collection and feedback related to baseline and issue-based risk assessments. The type of risk assessment should be done on an on-going basis and should therefore form part of daily risk management of hazards and their treatment.

    The health and safety representative must develop hazard awareness among employees. The risk is operation-based and entails on-going monitoring by first-line managers. Training in this regard is exceptionally important and this is where the expertise offered by health and safety consultants is essential. They are able to present the courses, ensure that proper examination procedures are followed and that the representatives understand every aspect of their job roles.

    Types of Hazards

    Hazards differ from workplace to workplace and according to the industry in which the business operates. Examples of hazards include, but are by far not limited to:

    • Exposure to physical hazards such as chemicals, harsh light, laser, extreme heat or cold.
    • Environmental factors such as poor lighting or improper control of temperature.
    • Usage of electricity such as overhead lines, tools and switches.
    • Biochemical agent exposure such as risks of infections and bacteria.
    • Psychological risks such as workplace dimensions – height or small spaces.
    • Equipment – poorly-maintained equipment that can fail and cause injury.
    • Organisation of workspaces such as arrangement of tools.
    • Ergonomic hazards such as improper seating and height of tables.

    The list is by no means exhaustive. However, the safety representatives must be able to identify risks, hazards and emergencies. They must be able to conduct investigations, report on their findings and generally help improve the safety profile of the enterprise. For this, training is needed. We recommend making use of our health and safety consultancy expertise to identify and enrol employees in our training programmes, help set up an OHSAS-compliant management system and ensure compliance with legal requirements.

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