In the first part of this article we helped you with identifying risks and training your employees. Learn more in the next 5 steps.
You must provide the right workplace facilities for everyone in your workplace, including people with disabilities. However this doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming.
Basic things you need to consider are outlined below.
For your employees' well-being you need to provide:
• toilets and hand basins, with soap and towels or a hand-dryer;
• drinking water;
• a place to store clothing (and somewhere to change if special clothing is worn for work);
• somewhere to rest and eat meals.
You need to consider the requirements of Regulation 962
To have a healthy working environment, make sure there is:
• good ventilation – a supply of fresh, clean air drawn from outside or a ventilation system;
• a reasonable working temperature
• Sufficient lighting suitable for the work being carried out;
• enough room space and suitable workstations and seating;
• a clean workplace with appropriate waste containers.
To keep your workplace safe you must:
• properly maintain your premises and work equipment;
• keep floors and traffic routes free from congestion;
• make sure items are stored properly
You are responsible for making sure that your employees receive immediate attention if they are taken ill or are injured at work. Accidents and illness can happen at any time and first aid can save lives and prevent minor injuries from becoming major ones.
As a minimum, you must have:
• a suitably stocked first-aid box;
• an appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements;
• information for all employees giving details of first-aid arrangements.
You might decide that you need a first-aider. This is someone who has been trained by an approved organisation and holds a qualification in first aid at work or emergency first aid at work.
Under health and safety law, you must report and keep a record of certain injuries, incidents and cases of work-related disease. Keeping records will help you to identify patterns of accidents and injuries, and will help when completing your risk assessment. You will need to make sure proper records are kept for an employee to claim from the Compensation Fund.
Please note that employers with five or more persons in their employment must have a copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act 85 of 1993) and the relevant regulations readily available at the workplace. Even where the total number of employees is less than five, the employer must, on request of an employee, make a copy of the Act available to that employee.
You can put up posters with summaries for the benefit of your emloyees.
The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, 1993, (COIDA) has replaced the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1941. It provides for the payment of compensation to employees and, in certain circumstances, their dependants, for occupational injury or disease. Unlike the old Act, COIDA covers all employees, not only those who earn less than a certain amount.
According to Camargue, there is still a need for businesses to maintain private insurance to provide for those incidents not covered by public schemes. Some examples include employees that are not South African citizens or that are employed out of South Africa for a period longer than 12 months. These employees will not receive benefits in terms of COIDA and are thus not exempt from suing their employers under common law.
In addition, South African businesses that contract with foreign companies are often required to purchase additional employer’s liability cover. Even businesses with no foreign exposure are well advised to purchase employer’s liability cover because it includes cover for non-accidental injuries committed by one employee against another.
Your business is dynamic and so things can change. New products and processes can introduce new hazards to your employees. Make sure you review your health and safety plans at least once a quarter to ensure they are still valid. If you make changes, ensure you retrain your staff. If you have more than 2 safety representatives, you need to form a Health and Safety committee that must meet at least every 3 months. There should be formal minutes of these meetings.
Health and safety can be daunting but applying some common sense can help your sanity. Keep things simple but keep your objective foremost – keep employees safe at work.