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Safety first: managing OHSA compliance effectively

Home Business Management Safety Safety first: managing OHSA compliance effectively

COMPLIANCE with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) is a legal requirement for all businesses. More than that, it is a moral obligation to ensure the safety and safe working conditions of employees.

However, the regulations around the Act and the intricacies related to different industries can be complex to navigate. In addition, it often requires a dedicated Health and Safety Officer with specialist skills to ensure that every element has been effectively covered.

For many businesses, this is not a core skill, nor is it necessarily a full-time position, which is where Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) can be of assistance.

Risk is the most important factor that needs to be considered when it comes to OHS compliance. It is a legal requirement, and ultimately the liability lies with the CEO, MD or person in charge of the company – whoever is the 16.1 appointee is directly responsible to the Department of Labour and the Minister. The penalties for a contravention could include hefty fines, civil action and even jail time.

Following a serious injury or fatality in the workplace, if a Department of Labour inspection finds negligence with regard to OHS responsibility, the injured party or their family can institute legal action. A Section 54 notice can also be issued to shut the business down until such time as the inspector is satisfied that the operation is compliant.

Non-compliance with OHS requirements can have dire consequences, not only for management, but for the investors and directors of a company as well.

Complexities

OHSA itself consists of two sections, the act itself and all the regulations related to the different industries.

Some examples include driven machinery, electrical machinery, environmental regulations, hazardous biological agents, noise and hearing loss, heat exhaustion and exposure to extreme heat, implications of exposure to lead and asbestos, and many more.

There are specific regulations on how risks need to be dealt with by companies themselves in various sectors and industries, which can become complex.

Additionally, there are several chapters in the Act that cover safety procedures. This includes Section 7, which is the health and safety policy itself; Section 8, which describes the responsibilities of the employer; Section 13, which covers the duty to inform of the need for effective training in the event of an incident; and Section 14, which covers the general duties of the employees.

Section 16 not only appoints the person ultimately responsible for health and safety of employees, but also mandates that the correct people be appointed to manage this, as well as safety representatives. Section 24 covers the investigation of incidents and how they must be dealt with, and Section 31 applies in the event of a serious incident, with regard to the rights and obligations of the inspector from the Department of Labour.

As can be seen, the Act has many aspects for organisations to familiarise themselves with and ensure everything is in place in order to comply. It has become increasingly critical to control as many aspects as possible and mitigate the risk to operations of incidents and potential shutdowns.

The CEO needs to be able to rely on the OHS manager, which is an incredibly specialised skill set that can be difficult and cost-prohibitive to maintain. Outsourcing this function can not only ensure the right skills are brought on board, it can also improve health and safety and mitigate risk in multiple areas for enhanced business operations.

People are the most important asset of any business. Their health and safety needs to come first. A trusted BPO partner can provide the expertise that delivers peace of mind, assist with assessments, put OHS regulations into place, and manage the process for maximum health and safety compliance. The knock-on benefits of this include improved employee wellness, better output and productivity, clear processes and increased efficiency.

Gean Botha is MD at Programmed Process Outsourcing (PPO).

 

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