The Occupational Health and Safety Act – P1

Introduction

The Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993, requires the employer to bring about and maintain, as far as reasonably practicable, a work environment that is safe and without risk to the health of the workers. This means that the employer must ensure that the workplace is free of hazardous substances, such as benzene, chlorine and micro organisms, articles, equipment, processes, etc. that may cause injury, damage or disease. Where this is not possible, the employer must inform workers of these dangers, how they may be prevented, and how to work safely, and provide other protective measures for a safe workplace.

However, it is not expected of the employer to take sole responsibility for health and safety. The Act is based on the principle that dangers in the workplace must be addressed by communication and cooperation between the workers and the employer. The workers and the employer must share the responsibility for health and safety in the workplace. Both parties must pro-actively identify dangers and develop control measures to make the workplace safe. In this way, the employer and the workers are involved in a system where health and safety representatives may inspect the workplace regularly and then report to a health and safety committee, who in turn may submit recommendations to the employer.

To ensure that this system works, every worker must know his or her rights and duties as contained in the Act.

The Act and Regulations

The Act, known as the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1993 (Act 85 of 1993) consists of 50 sections promulgated by Parliament. The purpose of the Act is to provide for the health and safety of persons at work or in connection with the use of plant and machinery. It further provides for the protection of persons other than persons at work from hazards arising out of or in connection with the activities of persons at work.

Various regulations, on specific topics, are incorporated into the Act from time to time by the Minister of Labour.

The Act or Regulations can be purchased from the Government Printer in Gazette form or bound form from various publishers.

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