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Interesting facts on OHSA.

Did you know this interesting fact?

Employees (yes, employees) can be fined R50 000 for non-compliance!

If the Department of Labour does an inspection of your workplace and the employee is found guilty of negligence or willful misconduct, he/she could be fined.
The maximum penalty for non-compliance is R50 000 or 1 year in jail – or both!

So, now you know!

OHSA is everyone's responsibility in the workplace.

Don't get caught out - contact us today for an appointment, assessment or guidance.
We can help you to be compliant, avoid penalties, as well as minimising work place accidents and incidents.

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Phone our offices on 011 425 6979 or 016 423 6505.

Toolbox Talks

A Toolbox Talk is an informal group discussion that focuses on a particular safety issue. These tools can be used daily to promote your departments safety culture. Toolbox talks are also intended to facilitate health and safety discussions on the job site & in the workplace.

Toolbox Talks are quick and easy meetings to enhance OHSA's safety requirements. Toolbox Talks cover a wide range of topics ranging from workplace electrical safety to lifting basics. Toolbox Talks also help create and an environment to discuss task specific or timely safety communications and identify problems or highlight specific safety concerns/risks.

What is a "Toolbox Talk"?

A Toolbox Talk is an informal group discussion among employees of an individual department that focuses on a particular safety issue.

Who can conduct a "Toolbox Talk"?

Anyone can conduct a Toolbox Talk. However, it is a good idea to select individuals who have expertise on the given topic.

Where and when should these discussions take place?

The meeting should be held in a comfortable location at the beginning of a shift, after lunch/break, or incorporated into another operational meeting.

Do "Toolbox Talks" satisfy required safety training?

No. Toolbox Talks are a brief discussion each week or month of relevant safety issues but they do not replace formal safety training.

Other applications for Toolbox Talks

Toolbox Talks can be used for post accident communications, re-enforcement of safe work practice, pre-task planning and talking points for hands on training or tabletop exercises.

To help you get your toolbox talks working for you, call us at Safety Growth SA on 011 425 6979, 016 423 6505.


Occupational Health and Safety in Small Businesses.

Strangely, some small businesses do not believe that they also need to ensure OHS is in place in their businesses.  This is not the case, the following points make it clear that ALL businesses regardless of their size need to stay compliant to OHSA in South Africa.

What is occupational health and safety about?

It is about preventing people from being harmed by work or becoming ill by taking precautions and providing a satisfactory working environment.

How is health and safety of people protected?

There are rules, which require all of us not to put others or ourselves in danger.  The law is also there to protect the public from workplace dangers.

Do health and safety laws apply to small businesses?

Yes, health and safety laws apply to all businesses no matter how small.  It applies to self-employed people too.

What law is applicable?

The Occupational Health and Safety Act, No 85 of 1993.

Who is responsible for the development and enforcement of health and safety laws?

The Department of Labour is responsible for the development of health and safety laws in South Africa.  Inspectors are appointed by the Department of Labour to enforce the health and safety laws.

What do inspectors do?

They visit workplaces and check that people are sticking to the rules.  They investigate incidents and complaints.  They also help you understand what you need to do.  They enforce when there is a serious violation of rules.

What should be done if an injury has occurred at work?

The employer or self-employed person should report incidents to the Department of Labour.  The incidents should be reported immediately, especially if they are serious, or within seven days.

Have you got health and safety under control in your workplace?

In order to put measures in place to control risks at a workplace, a Risk Assessment should be conducted in order to get information about the risks associated with the workplace.  Sensible measures can then be put in place to control the risks.

What is a risk assessment?

It is a careful examination of what in your workplace could cause possible harm to people.

What possible risks and injuries can be sustained at the workplace?

There are a number of risks that  can be found at work and the following are a few examples of possible risks:

  • Slipping or tripping at work.  This is a common cause of injuries which happen in all kinds of workplaces.
  • Chemicals.
  • Falling from heights e.g. ladders.
  • Strains, sprains, and pains mostly because of manual handling or supporting loads by hand or bodily force.
  • Noise.
  • Vibration, mostly where people work with hand held tools.
  • Electricity at work.
  • Fires.

The employer or self-employed person has the responsibility to ensure that no person is injured of affected by activities taking place at the workplace.

Workers at the workplace must also make sure that no person is harmed because of their negligence or simple lack of cooperation with the employer. 

Safety Growth SA is here to help you to ensure that your business is legally compliant to OHSA.

Call us for an appointment to find out what we can do for you.

011 425 6979, 016 423 6505.

Your peace of mind is just a call away.

Workplace Violence

How safe are you when you are at work?

Workplace violence is more common than you might think!  Prevention is better than cure, if you know what to look out for and how to avoid violent situations, then that is better than the unthinkable alternative.


How You Can Prevent Violence in Your Workplace?

What’s at Stake?

Workplace violence can happen anywhere, any time. It can come from a co-worker or a stranger. And it isn’t limited to physical assault. Workplace violence is any form of threatening or disruptive behavior. It can be as simple as a gesture, such as a raised fist, or as complicated as sabotage.

What’s the Danger?

Every year about two million workers in the US experience workplace violence. The situation is similar in Canada, where 17 percent of all self-reported incidents of violence, including sexual assault, physical assault and robbery, occur in the workplace.  Stats in South Africa are just as alarming, if not more so!

A Kentucky plastics factory employee, who was known to not get along with his co-workers, fatally shot his supervisor and four other workers before taking his own life.
The press operator, said to be 25 years old, argued with his supervisor about wearing protective eyewear and using a cell phone at his workstation, before being escorted from the factory. He then returned and fatally shot his supervisor before shooting several other workers, apparently at random.

How to Protect Yourself?

Before people explode in violence at work, they may give signals that something is wrong. There are a number of warning signs to let you know that trouble is brewing. Here are a few:

  • Social isolation
  • Decrease in personal hygiene
  • Complaints of unfair treatment
  • Excessive lateness or absenteeism
  • Faulty decision-making
  • Blaming others for mistakes
  • Inappropriate comments about revenge, violence or weapons
  • Disrespect for authority
  • Swearing
  • Overreacting to criticism

There are precautions workers can take to minimize or prevent violence on the job. For example:

  • Don’t get drawn into arguments. Loud and aggressive arguments can easily escalate into physical fights.
  • Take verbal threats seriously, but don’t respond to them.
  • Report all threats to your supervisor.
  • Report all incidents of bullying and sexual harassment.
  • Watch for unauthorized visitors, even those who appear to have legitimate business at  your plant. Crimes have been committed by people posing as employees, contractors and repair persons.
  • Report any suspicious person or vehicle.
  • Don’t give out information about fellow employees.
  • Keep doors locked before your business officially opens and after closing time.
  • Always have access to communication devices so you can notify someone for help.

          Speed-dialing numbers should be programmed into phones and emergency numbers should be listed at each phone.

  • Devise a plan such that predetermined code words can be used so one employee can tell another about a dangerous customer or visitor without tipping off the suspect.
  • Trust your instincts. They act as your early warning system.

Final Word

Knowing what workplace violence is, what you can do about it and what your company’s policy is on the topic will go a long way to ensuring your safety and to curbing violence in your workplace.

For all your OHSA legal compliance needs contact us on 011 425 6979, 016 423 6505

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A Legal Perspective - Part 3 of 3

Health and Safety in the Workplace: A South African Perspective – Is the Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Safe Working Environment a Satisfactory Position?

PART 3 of 3:

4. Is the Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Safe Working Environment a Satisfactory Position within South Africa?

The South African common law and legislation provides for various rights and duties for both employers and employees, but the ultimate question that often arises is whether these obligations provide a satisfactory position within the South African health and safety framework?

Despite the fact that the vague common law duty is ill-suited to address fast changing and specific health and safety concerns in the workplace properly, the legislature realised these deficiencies and in order to ensure that employees are protected against workplace injuries and diseases applied a double-barrel approach to prevent workplace injuries. This is evident from the OHSA and MHSA and then the compensatory legislation of COIDA and ODMWA being enacted.
The somewhat deficient common law is however further exacerbated by the fact that the civil justice system is expressly excluded as a mechanism to hold employers liable by virtue of the provisions of section 35 of COIDA, which preclude any employee or the dependent of the employee from instituting legal proceedings against the employer to recover damages in the civil courts. One consequence flowing from this lack of civil accountability on the part of the employer is that our courts have not had an opportunity to develop a body of case law to determine the content and meaning of the employer’s duty of care and therefore no developed law on what those duties are exist. This is why employers are seldom if ever prosecuted for contravening their general duty of care as set out in the principle Acts, therefore rendering the provisions somewhat toothless. Therefore there is a need to introduce law which will address issues of occupational health and safety in a more comprehensive manner .

Health and safety legislation is intended to give content to the employer’s duty of care and then to enhance accountability by providing for a range of additional criminal and administrative sanctions and secondly to provide for facilitation of civil liability through the principle of strict liability for breach of a statutory duty. Currently, this is not the case in South Africa. The general duty is prevalent but the enforcement thereof is not reaching its potential, leaving employees without the sufficient opportunity to enforce legal proceedings and are to an extent restricted by the provisions of COIDA.

From the above, it is clear that the South African law places an obligation upon every employer to ensure a healthy and safe working environment for its workers and this obligation finds its origins in section 24 of the Constitution of South Africa, No 108 of 1996, which states that “every person has the right to an environment which is not harmful to their health and well-being”. However this right enshrined in the Constitution is somewhat shadowed by COIDA and ODMWA. In conclusion the position within the health and safety legislature and the enforcement thereof are certainly not satisfactory and the need for a paradigm shift is calling.

(extracted from a paper by Marco Schepers Associate BCom LLB)

For all your legal compliance needs contact us on 011 425 6979, 016 423 6505.

Like our Facebook page so that you keep up with our follow up posts

Bear in mind, that all businesses regardless how small need to be OHSA compliant.  Although all of this may seem overwhelming, with help from experts such as Safety Growth SA, it can all be implemented and maintained with relative ease.

A Legal Perspective - Part 2

"Health and Safety in the Workplace: A South African Perspective – Is the Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Safe Working Environment a Satisfactory Position?"

PART 2 of 3:

3. The Employers Health and Safety Obligations

Common Law

Common law refers to those rules which form part of our law and which are derived from custom and judicial precedent rather than legislation. In South Africa our common law derives from the Roman Dutch Law. The South African courts have in SAR & H v Cruywagen 1938 CPD 219 at 229, stated that “at common law, an employer has a duty to provide a safe working environment, safe equipment and tools and a safe method of work”. This obligation does not however guarantee that the employer will provide working conditions that will always be safe. Because of this, the employee would at common law have to institute legal proceedings by means of a delict which would require him or her to prove negligence on the part of the employer rather than claiming possible damages from the employers breach of the employment contract which would not be ordinarily possible in the event of an employee’s injury at work.

In Van Deventer v Workman’s Compensation Commissioner 1962 (4) SA 28 (T), the court held that “an employer owes a common-law duty to a workman to take reasonable care for his safety” and referred to the following common law duties placed on an employer:

  • if the work is of a dangerous nature the employer must take all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of the workers;
  • the employer cannot be held liable for any latent defects in the plant which could not be noticed by reasonable examination; and
  • the employer must ensure that employees do not suffer as a result of the employer’s negligence.

It is therefore clear that the employer’s obligation is always qualified by the word “reasonable”. This means that the courts will measure an employer’s actions against a “reasonable person” test in which the courts will ask the following questions:

  • Would a “reasonable person” in the position of the employer have foreseen the possibility that a person may be injured?
  • Would the “reasonable person” have taken steps against the accident which gave raise to the injury?
  • Did the employer in question fail to take the steps a “reasonable person” would have?

The employer’s obligation to provide a safe working environment is however not absolute, meaning that it is not expected of an employer to ensure safety against every possible remote occurrence, but restricted by the concept of reasonableness.

Section 35 of COIDA has however altered the common law position, which now prevents an employee who has been injured on duty to claim damages from the employer. Instead, the employee must now claim from the Compensation Commissioner. The COIDA makes it easier for employees as they do not have to prove, inter alia, that the employer acted negligently in order to claim compensation. The employee will, however, only be entitled to a fixed amount of compensation which could be considerably less than that which the employee could have claimed if he or she had been successful with a delictual claim.


Apart from every employer’s common law obligation, section 8(1) of OHSA places an important primary obligation on every employer to provide and maintain “as far as reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of its employees”. The interpretation of the above section is qualified by the words reasonably practicable. This would mean that the obligation to provide safe premises, safe machinery, tools and safe systems of work is not an absolute one, but again restricted by the concept of reasonableness. Reasonableness is ultimately the measure which determines whether conduct complies with the Act and will depend on the circumstances of each case. Section 8(2) of the OHSA places further statutory obligations on employer’s to ensure compliance with the obligation outlined in section 8(1) and which requires an employer to:

  1. provide and maintain a system of work, plant and machinery that, as far as reasonably practicable, are safe and without risk to health;
  2. take such steps that are reasonable practicable to eliminate any hazard or potential hazard to the safety or health of employees, before resorting to personal protective material;
  3. make arrangements, as far as reasonably practicable, to ensure the safety and absence of health risks in connection with the production, processing, use, handling, storage or transportation of articles or substance;
  4. establish, as far as reasonably practicable, what hazards are attached to any work performed, or to any article or substance produced, processed, used, handled, stored or transported and to establish what precautionary measures should be taken in respect of such work, article or substance in order to protect the health and safety of persons;
  5. provide information, instructions, training and supervision, as far as it may be necessary to ensure the health and safety at work of the employees;
  6. as far as is reasonably practicable, not to permit any employee to do any work or to produce, process, use, handle, store or transport any article or substance unless the precautionary measures prescribed by the Act have been taken; and
  7. take all necessary measures to ensure that the requirements of the OHSA, that would include supervision, training, instructions and information are complied with by every employee or other person on the premises of the employer where plant or machinery is used.

It is important to note that the obligation of the employer to provide safe working conditions is not limited to the employer’s own employees. Section 9(1) of the OHSA provides that every employer must as far as reasonably practicable conduct his or her activities in such a manner that persons other than those in the employer’s employment who may be directly affected by his or her activities are not exposed to hazards of their health and safety.

Section 5(1) of the MHSA provides that “[t]o the extent that it is reasonably practicable, every employer must provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of employees”. The reasonableness sentiment echoed in the OHSA is similar in the MHSA. Section 102 and 1 of the MHSA and OHSA respectively define the words “reasonably practicable” as meaning “practicable having regard to –

  1. the severity and scope of the hazard or risk concerned;
  2. the state of knowledge reasonably available concerning that hazard or risk and of any means

of removing or mitigating that hazard or risk;

  1. the availability and suitability of means to remove or mitigate that hazard or risk; and
  2. the costs and the benefits of removing or mitigating that hazard or risk”.

Section 2(1) of the MHSA further provides that every employer of a mine being worked must ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that the mine is designed, constructed, equipped and operated in such a way that employees can perform their work without endangering the health and safety of employees or of any other person. A number of obligations have been imposed on employers of mines in respect of the maintenance of health and safety at every mine. The most important obligations are to:

  1. maintain a healthy and safe environment;
  2. ensure an adequate supply of health and safety equipment;
  3. appoint staff with due regard to health and safety;
  4. establish a health and safety policy;
  5. provide health and safety training;
  6. assess and respond to risk;
  7. conduct occupational hygiene measures;
  8. establish a system of medical surveillance of employees exposed to health hazards; and
  9. keep a service record or hazardous work.

Section 8(1) read with section 1 of the OHSA and section 2, 5 and 102 of the MHSA was an attempt by the legislature to give some content to the requirement of reasonableness. As discussed above, this would mean that the obligation to provide safe premises, safe machinery, tools and safe systems of work is not an absolute one, but restricted by the concept of reasonableness.   This means that both the legislature and the common law compels the employer to adopt an all-inclusive approach to health and safety management. The employer must use a number of measures forming part of a health and safety management system to ensure a reasonably safe working place. This entails the employer relying on:

  • risk management;
  • formal and informal training of employees;
  • an organisational structure of experienced and competent employees; safe equipment;
  • safe systems of work;
  • safety procedures;
  • supervision;
  • discipline; 
  • and maintenance procedures.

What is often unknown to laypersons is the fact that the OHSA and MHSA are pro-active pieces of
legislation which also impose health and safety obligations on employees. The safety obligations of employees are relevant and must also be taken into account when considering the question whether the workplace is or was safe, as far as reasonably practicable.

Section 14 of the OHSA provides as follows:

“Every employee shall at work –

  1. take reasonable care of their own safety and health and of other persons who may be affected by the employee’s acts or omissions;
  2. co-operate with the employer or any other person to make it possible to comply with any requirement which is imposed on that person by the OHSA;
  3. carry out any lawful orders given to the employee and obey the health and safety rules laid down by the employer in the interest of health and safety;
  4. report to the employer or the health and safety representative any unsafe or unhealthy situation which may come to the attention of the employee as soon as is practicable, possible;
  5. and report as soon as practicable to the employer or the safety representative any incident in which the employee may have been involved which may affect the employee’s health or has caused an injury.”

Section 22 of the MHSA provides as follows:

“Every employee at a mine, while at that mine, must –

  1. take reasonable care to protect their own health and safety;
  2. take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of other persons who may be affected by any act or omission of that employee;
  3. use and take proper care of protective clothing, and other health and safety facilities and equipment provided for the protection, health or safety of that employee and other employees;
  4. report promptly to their immediate supervisor any situation which the employee believes presents a risk to the health or safety of that employee or other person, and with which the employee cannot properly deal;
  5. co-operate with any person to permit compliance with the duties and responsibilities placed on that person in terms of this Act; and
  6. comply with prescribed health and safety measures. 

(extracted from a paper by Marco Schepers Associate BCom LLB).

For all your legal compliance needs contact us on 011 425 6979, 016 423 6505.

Like our Facebook page so that you keep up with our follow up posts

Bear in mind, that all businesses regardless how small need to be OHSA compliant.  Although all of this may seem overwhelming, with help from experts such as Safety Growth SA, it can all be implemented and maintained with relative ease.

A Legal Perspective:

“Health and Safety in the Workplace: A South African Perspective – Is the Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Safe Working Environment a Satisfactory Position? “

PART 1 of 3:

1. Introduction

Every year dramatic scenes of workers suffering the consequences of occupational hazards are streamed to media across the world. The trapped Chilean mineworkers and New Zealand construction workers holding on to scaffolding for dear life in 2010 are significant and costly reminders about the importance of workplace safety which is celebrated annually on 28 April. World Day for Safety and Health at Work was declared by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally and is an awareness-raising campaign intended to focus attention on emerging trends in the field of occupational health and safety and on the magnitude of work-related injuries, diseases and fatalities not only in South Africa but worldwide. World Day for Safety and Health at Work can be utilised as a stark reminder to employers of their obligations in applying health and safety legislation, but is the employer’s obligation to provide a safe working environment a satisfactory position within South Africa? This question comes in light of much criticism being directed at South Africa’s well written and comprehensive health and safety legislation being regarded as toothless and ineffective.

The aim of this paper is to firstly provide a critical analyses and evaluation on the health and safety duties and obligations imposed on both employers and employees within the South African health and safety legal framework and secondly, to determine whether this current position is satisfactory.

2. South Africa’s Health and Safety Legal Framework

The health and safety of employees at the workplace is a fundamental issue which cannot simply be left to self-regulation by the parties involved and consequently it is fundamental for both employers and employees to know and understand their obligations and rights when it comes to occupational health and safety. Therefore, as a point of departure it is essential to determine and establish the scope of application of the few overreaching legislations in South Africa regulating employees’ safety and compensation in the workplace. In South Africa, occupational health and safety is regulated by common law and statute. At common law, employers have an obligation to take reasonable care of their employees in all the circumstances of employment. Within the legislative framework, two major Acts regulate occupational health and safety viz. the Occupational Health and Safety Act, No. 85 of 1993 (“OHSA”) and the Mine Health and Safety Act, No. 29 of 1996 (“MHSA”). The MHSA applies to mines and works as defined as related aspects while the OHSA applies to other industries but does not apply to employers and workplaces to which the MHSA and certain matters covered by the Merchant Shipping Act, No. 57 of 1951 apply. In essence, these Acts restate the common law position in obliging employers to take all reasonable and practicable measures to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.

While the OHSA and MHSA strive to prevent the contraction of diseases and injuries of employees and therefore serves as a preventative piece of legislation, further legislation has also been enacted to deal with the aftermath of injuries and diseases, viz. the payment of compensation to the injured employee. The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, No 130 of 1993 (“COIDA”) and Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act, No 78 of 1973 (“ODMWA”) provides for mechanisms for employees to claim compensation when injured or becoming ill as a result of his or her work.

(extracted from a paper by Marco Schepers Associate BCom LLB)

For all your legal compliance needs contact us on 011 425 6979, 016 423 6505.

Like our Facebook page so that you keep up with our follow up posts.

Bear in mind, that all businesses regardless how small need to be OHSA compliant.  Although all of this may seem overwhelming, with help from experts such as Safety Growth SA, it can all be implemented and maintained with relative ease.

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is not a fashion statement!

This safety blog will give you an overview on why Employers need to ensure that their Employees know what PPE is required to be used by them, and why.

Employers are required to train each employee who must use PPE. Employees must be trained to know at least the following:

▪   When PPE is necessary.

▪   What PPE is necessary.

▪   How to properly put on, take off, adjust and wear the PPE.

▪   The limitations of the PPE.

▪   Proper care, maintenance, useful life and disposal of PPE.

Employers should make sure that each employee demonstrates an understanding of the PPE training as well as the ability to properly wear and use PPE before they are allowed to perform work requiring the use of the PPE. If an employer believes that a previously trained employee is not demonstrating the proper understanding and skill level in the use of PPE, that employee should receive retraining. Other situations that require additional or retraining of employees include the following circumstances: changes in the workplace or in the type of required PPE that make prior training obsolete.

The employer must document the training of each employee required to wear or use PPE by preparing a certification containing the name of each employee trained, the date of training and a clear identification of the subject of the certification.

Selection of PPE:

All PPE clothing and equipment should be of a safe design and construction, and should be maintained in a clean and reliable fashion. Employers should take the fit and comfort of PPE into consideration when selecting appropriate items for their workplace. PPE that fits well and is comfortable to wear will encourage employee use of PPE. Most protective devices are available in multiple sizes and care should be taken to select the proper size for each employee. If several different types of PPE are worn together, make sure they are compatible. If PPE does not fit properly, it can make the difference between being safely covered or dangerously exposed. It may not provide the level of protection desired and may discourage employee use.

So now you know!

For help or more information on what PPE your company and staff should be using, contact us at Safety Growth SA on 011 425 6979, or Vereniging on 016 423 6505.

Stay safe!