The Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) recently released its latest report on the status of occupational health and safety in South Africa. According to the report, there is a worrying lack of compliance with occupational health and safety standards in some sectors and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the challenges of keeping employees safe.
South Africa is a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and the report was jointly commissioned by the ILO and DEL. According to the report compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 85 of 1993 (the Act) and related Regulations are lowest in the manufacturing sector with less than half of employers compliant, followed by the retail sector. The highest compliant sectors were the construction and agriculture sectors.
Fatalities in the mining sector remain a challenge with an increase in deaths from a year ago. The pandemic forced employers to introduce work changes which highlighted the need to introduce measures to strengthen the system allowing the Department of Employment and Labour to protect workers, particularly during pandemic outbreaks. The lack of recorded data on diseases was a critical gap that must be addressed. The release of the OHS report is part of developing a comprehensive strategy and policy for the prevention of occupational health and safety hazards for employees and reforming the inspection and compensation regime. According to the DEL Director-General, the report was not just about occupational health and safety for which the Department of Employment and Labour is responsible but also covered all aspects of occupational health and safety in South Africa. All government departments and entities, state, and non-statutory institutions responsible for health and safety contributed to the report, as well as businesses and unions.
The Inspector-General of Inspections and Enforcements of the Department of Employment and Labour said there was also an economic reason for ensuring employees are kept safe. According to the Compensation Fund Commissioner, the priority should remain to prevent, decrease, and eradicate occupational health and safety hazards in the workplace adding that illness and injury resulted in a loss of skills to the country’s economy.
Improving Occupational Health and Safety
Improving the occupational health and safety of employees is the responsibility of every employer. One way to ensure improvement is to implement the ISO 45001:2018 Standard. The focus of the ISO 45001:2018 Standard is to identify the actions within each process, and document potential hazards utilising a risk framework to determine the inherent controls. A mitigation or treatment plan is created to assist in reducing the risks with controls according to your risk appetite and tolerance level. If risks cannot be eliminated, the hierarchy of controls will be applied which includes substitution, engineering, signage, administrative, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) controls.
Why does an Organisation need ISO 45001:2018?
Any organisation is accountable for the occupational health and safety of staff and others who can be affected by its activities. ISO 45001:2018 applies to any organisation that wants to establish, implement, and maintain an Occupational Health and Safety Management System to improve occupational health and safety, eliminate hazards, and minimise risks.
ISO 45001:2018 delivers the necessary framework for an Occupational Health and Safety Management System. By implementing such a management system, your business can manage risks and improve performance by developing and implementing effective policies and reachable objectives.
What are the benefits of implementing ISO 45001:2018?
- Employee safety is improved by reducing workplace diseases and injuries.
- Reduce risks by identifying safety hazards before they become an accident.
- Sustainability is achieved by a proactive safety philosophy.
- Foster management involvement and accountability.
- Stakeholder confidence is boosted by demonstrating that your employee safety is a priority.
- Lowering injuries within the organisation and increasing productivity.
- Identifying opportunities to increase safety awareness.
- ISO Standards are well known across the world, giving your organisation a competitive advantage.
- A successful health and safety programme will engage employees in all aspects of safety.
- By obtaining certification, your organisation will proudly showcase its commitment to best safety practices and continual improvement.