Human Resources required under OHS Laws and Regulations in South Africa

By Yvette Montalbano on 30 October 2016

Are you confused as to what human resources you are required to appoint in terms of all the OHS Law and regulations?  Well join the club, I was too. So I have put this information leaflet together that can assist you to get started with the basics. 

This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive information sheet.  These are the minimum requirements in terms of our OHS laws and regulations in SA. First we need to get the correct terminology sorted out.

1. Definitions within OHS Act and Regulations

 

1.1     Occupational Health Practitioner (OHP):

Refers to a Registered Nurse who has completed a post graduate qualification in Occupational Health (OHN), and is registered as such with the South African Nursing Council (SANC)

OR

Refers to an Occupational Medical Practitioner (OMP) that is a Medical Practitioner who has completed a post graduate qualification in Occupational Health, and is registered as such with the Health Practitioner’s Council of South Africa (HPCSA)

 

1.2    Occupational Medical Practitioner (OMP):

An Occupational Medical Practitioner is a Medical Practitioner who has completed a post graduate qualification in Occupational Health, and is registered as such with the Health Practitioner’s Council of South Africa (HPCSA)

2. Medical testing by unsupervised, unqualified nursing practitioners not legally permitted

 

“….the legal position places the following constraints on acknowledging any information emanating from the medical testing done by a Nursing Agency or a Nurse:

  1.  No Nursing Agency is registered with the HPCSA and any medical testing done by such an entity is thus not legally compliant to the Health  Professions Act;
  2.  Nursing Practitioners in South Africa are not permitted or registered with the Nursing Council to perform medical testing independently and  their actions doing so are therefore not legally compliant to the Nursing Act;
  3.  …It would be cavalier to accept the contents and quality basis of tests done under conditions which the OMP has no control over (e.g.  calibration of equipment, competence of tester), by nursing practitioners whose competence is not verifiable by the OMP and who are legally  not even be registered to do the tests.”

 3.  How many OHN’s and OMP’s do you need per employee?

 

The industry is not guided by a prescriptive reference in the law in this regard but industry standard and best practice guidelines do exist.

 

3.1        In a high risk work environment/area the following table will apply;

 


SASOM Guideline

 

Position Appointment  Number Required
Occupational Health Practitioner (OHN) 1 x OHN for 1 day per week per 50 - 70 employees
Occupational Medical Practitioner (OMP) 1 x OMP for 1 day per month per 50 - 70  employees

SDi Standard Practice

Position Appointment Number Required
Occupational Health Practitioner (OHN) 1 x OHN for 1 day per week per 100 employees
Occupational Medical Practitioner (OMP) 1 x OMP for 1 day per week per 100 employees

 

4. Health and Safety Reps/Co-ordinators

 

As you know, a Health, Safety and Environment representative (HSE rep) or HSE officer is an employee other employees nominate and elect to represent them on matters that relate to their health and safety at work.


The OHSA requires you elect an HSE officer.


Your HSE officer is your right hand man when it comes to ensuring safety in your company.


In terms of Section 17 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 read in conjunction with General Administration Regulation 6 an employer has to designate employees as Health and Safety representatives as soon as the employer has more than 20 employees in employment.


The calculation is done on the amount of employees working in the company and not per premises.


Should the calculation have been done per premises it would mean an employer with a 1000 employees working on a 100 premises, at 10 employees per premises would never have Health and Safety representatives. This was certainly not the intent of legislature.


Do you know how many HSE officers you're required to elect?


The ratio by which Health and Safety representatives must be appointed is at least one Health and Safety representative for every 100 employees in shops or offices and one Health and Safety representative for every 50 employees working in other areas (workshops and technical areas etc.).
This is however a minimum and one always has to have a back-up available if any of the Health and Safety representatives are on leave, away on training on sick leave etc.


You need to make sure you have at least:

  • One HSE officer if you have more than 20 employees in your company;
  • One HSE officer for every 50 employees or less in a factory, warehouse or industry; and
  • Three HSE officers for every 100 employees or less in a factory, warehouse or industry.


In high-risk areas, such as laboratories, workshops or departments working shifts, elect more HSE officers if you need to.  Remember, you must have at least one HSE officer on duty during every shift.

 

5. First Aiders


The General Safety Regulations stipulated the following in Section 3, point 4;

(4) Where more than 10 employees are employed at a workplace, the employer of such employees shall take steps to ensure that for every group of up to 50 employees at that workplace, or in the case of a shop or an office as contemplated in the Basic Conditions of employment Act, 1983 (Act No. 3 of 1983), for every group of up to 100 employees, at least one person is readily available during normal working hours, who is in possession of a valid certificate of competency in first aid.

 

6. Fire Fighters


How many fire fighters should you have for your company size?

There's no specific ratio like there is for first aiders. In line with your emergency plan, you should have at least one fire fighter per area/floor/department on each shift. This is the very bare minimum, and I strongly recommend you have at least two fire fighters per area/floor/department. Fire fighters should complete fire training, which should include the specific fire fighting principles related to specific risks in the area in which you've appointed them, i.e. gas fire, fire related to chemicals etc.

 

7. Conclusion


So this table sets out the minimum HSE requirements in terms of resources.

 

 Position Appointment Number Required  Legislative Reference 
  HSE Officer  1 x Management Appointment  Sect 17 Of OHS Act 85 of 1993
SHE Reps Co-ordinator

 Elected by staff
Required when more than 2 SHE Reps

Sect 17 Of OHS Act 85 of 1993
 SHE Reps

 Elected by Staff 
1/50 in Factories
1/100 in Offices, Shops & Retail

Sect 17 Of OHS Act 85 of 1993
 First Aiders 1/50 in Factories
1/100 in Offices, Shops & Retail
 Section 3, General Safety Regulations, 1986
 Fire Fighters  1 in every work area  Section 3, General Safety Regulations, 1986
Occupational Health Practitioner (OHN) 1 day per week per 100 employees  Section 7, Hazardous Chemical Substances Regulations, 1995
(Numbers based on SASOM Guidelines for industry)
 Occupational Medical Practitioner (OMP) 1 hour per week per 100 employees  Section 7, Hazardous Chemical Substances Regulations, 1995
(Numbers based on SASOM Guidelines for industry)