Simplifying the OHS Act

Hi All,

Most people I speak to and consult for, find the OHS Act to be confusing and daunting to try and understand. For business owners there are a few simple rules that you need to follow to aid in keeping your company safety compliant.

The first thing is to remember and understand the roles and responsibilities you have as a business owner. As far as health and safety goes your first and foremost duty is to keep your staff safe by using all practicable means.

What this means is that you shall provide a safe working environment by using effective, yet affordable means. The OHS Act provides us with guidelines of the minimum requirements in all different the working scenarios.

This is where most clients start getting confused and unsure if they are taking the right steps towards safety compliance. I have provided a list and description of basic steps that you need to follow in all working environments to ensure you are compliant as well as effectively minimising incidents in the workplace.

  • A system needs to be created and accessible – this system is for record keeping of all safety issues, findings and achievements. You always want and need to have some form of evidence to hand over to any authorities that may request it this includes insurance companies and safety inspectors.
  • The system needs to have a few basic requirements in place – you will need to have either in the file or displayed in the workplace a copy of the OHS act, COID act, and labour laws. Appointed safety reps, fire marshals and evacuation marshals. Master documents for appointments,¬†safety checklists and incident investigations.
  • The above is your starting point, once you have the generic information in place the site specific information shall be collected – This includes drawing up safe work instructons and procedures which instructs safe ways in which to carry out activities in the workplace.
  • A risk assessment and safety audit which should be done externally to begin the safety system and then internal assessments done yearly and external assesments recomended every twu years. This allows you two know how to correctly safeguard your employees and assets from any incidents.
  • emergency procedures need to be drawn up – This will include evacuation plans to show where to evauate if the building is big and confusing as well as written procedures. The written procedures are to point out roles and responsibilities, where to go and how as well as where everyone should meet and what needs to be taken to the assembly point.
  • Training is an integral part of a safety system -¬†5% of your staff shall be trained in fire safety and evacuation strategies while 0ne in every fifty employees needs to be trained in first aid.

Once all of the above is in order and filed in the safety system you should be compliant but you would still need to maintain compliance on a monthly basis. For example Рyou are required to check all of your safety equipment every month, documenting your findings and any deviations. A general premises check shall be done every month looking at plug points, lighting, housekeeping, evacuation routes and signage. Lastly a monthly safety meeting needs to be carried out assessing your current safety situation and discussing any incidents that may have occured within the previous month.

The main reoson for having a correct complete safety system is that you are aware and prepared for any imidiate dangers and by doing the monthly safety checks correctly you could be able to early detect a warning sign that could be deadly.

Looking at everything you need to achieve to be safety compliant looks like too much to handle if you do not have anything, as you do not know where to start. I assure you that getting proffessionals to assist you in the initial assessments and set up of the safety system. They will be able to leave you compliant and compitent to maintain compliance in-house.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further assistance. I am able to tailor make a system for you according to your needs and requirements.

Thanks for reading

Think safe

Guy

 

 

 

 

 

Fire drills,

Hi All,

Carrying out a fire drill is a South African law and shall be done a minimum of twice a year.

This is one of the laws I am happy that we have in South Africa as experience has shown me that even in practice situations people panic. The only wayyou minimize panic is to practice your procedures and hold comprehensive training.

When working with a couple hotels, we held a drill once a month for six months to improve skills and allow staff to get more comfortable with the emergency roles.

The results were great as each drill carried out on the audit showed a vast improvement and all personnel concerned were comfortable with their tasks.

There is no set acceptable time period to evacuate the building, it is very site specific and the safety consultant can advise you once the assessments have been carried out.

There are a number of things that need to be in place for an effective and safe evacuation. This information is gathered during the safety audit and shall be included in the audit report.

While facilitating a fire drill you shall look at how many people instinctively know where the evacuation routes and assembly points are, reaction time to evacuate the building, does everyone understand their roles, are people able to carry out their duties they have been assigned.

By checking the criteria above you are able to focus on what needs urgent attention and improvement so you can work towards an effective evacuating system.

Thank you for your time. Have a safe day

Guy

Risk assessments

Hi Everyone,

Risk assessments are an integral part of your safety plan.

What is a risk assessment? A risk assessment is an assessment of all the activities that are carried out on your site and the risks that are associated with them.

The risk assessment is carried out to identify what risks are involved with the activities in the workplace. This is very site specific as each work environment is different and comes with its own challenges.

The risk assessment shall also give you the conclusion of what safety measures of are needed and are best for the set up you have. You will receive PPE, administrative and possible engineerinng solutions for the risks you are facing.

A risk assessment shall be communicated to all of the staff members involved with each hazard. A risk assessment will assist you in creating the safe work procedures and instructions. A risk assessment shall be carried out whenever their are changes in the work evironment eg renovations or moving around of the factory.

I reccommend you getting the assessments and safety file done first as you can then get trained on your specific requirements based on the findings.

Thank you for your time

All the best

Guy

Safety audits

Hi All,

Knowing your environment and what is required to have an effective safety system is a vital part of of work safety.

What is a safety audit? A safety audit is perfomed by a trained and compitant person in order to assess what safety precautions are in place. During a safety audit the assessor shall look at your safety signage, your safety equipment, the layout of your office or factory, the evacuation doors and routes, detection equipment and assembly points.

Once the audit is completed you shall receive a report explaining what you have on site and what is needed to be compliant and have an effective safe work environment.

An external audit shall be performed every two years to make sure that your site is kept current according to the laws and standards of South Africa.

Please give me a shout if I can help you reach compliance or assist in pointing you in the correct direction to starting your safety plan.

All the best

Guy

The actual effect of injuries in the workplace

Hi All,

No matter how big or small the incidents are that occur in your workplace, there are obligations that the company has to the effected employees. As a minimum you would need to do an incdent investigation and provide basic treatment to the employee. This takes time out of a staff members day and takes them away from the primary task that you pay them for.

For more serious incidents an investigation is still required by an internal and an external source. Depending on the incident you may be required to stop production, factory duties or any other activity that can cause injury. Doctors bills would be the employers to pay and often in work injuries doctors assign the employee with payed days off. Over and above the payed days off, the money lost while work is paused and the medical bills you may be liable to pay compensation.

With this in mind I hope you see the need for safety compliance. To be compliant you would need to set up a site specific safety file with safety appointments, risk assessments, safety audits, checklists, fire registers, a fire plan and emergency procedures.

With the safety file you would need to follow the reccomendations of the safety audit and have the correct safety equipment installed. You would have to train staff on various safety disciplines and lastly you would need to do monthly checks and fire drills to maintain safety compliance.

By having this in place and training workers on the correct safe work procedures you wouls find that you minimize unnecessary injuries.

Thanks for your time and I hope this helps to keep you and your employees safe.

Kind Regards and safety first

Guy

Incident investigation and reporting

Hi Everyone,

When dealing with people in a work environment you are likely to come accross incidents. To safeguard yourselves as employers and employees you need to follow certain steps correctly to avoid miss treatment after an incident.

As soon as an incident occurs you shall report the incident. The incident by law needs to be reported to a senior management by the end of the working day of the incident. This prevents employees from claiming that injuries incurred at home happend at work.

Once an incident occurs you are required to carry out an incident investigation. The incident investigation shall obtain the details of the individuals involed, the date and time of the incident, what the incident was, what injuries were incurred, how the incident happend and why and what could have been done to prevent the injuries.

This is done as part of the safety compliance maintenace and helps companies compile report summaries of what incidents have occured. This is done in order to plan what needs to be done to prevent injuries in future.

Thanks for reading please send me any questions you may have on safety and I will gladly assist.

Kind Regards

Guy

Noise induced hearing loss

Hi All,

This topic is one I find extremely interesting for a few reasons. My wife is an audiologist and she tells me of how many cases she sees of people losing their hearing while working on loud machinery day in and day out.

Paired with the amount of incidents that are reported is the fact that employers do not supply their employees with basic Personal protective equipment. This is not only unethical and illigal but is also a costly decision. By not paying for providing of PPE once the hearing impairment starts you are liable to pay for all medical bills. You will also be liable to pay damages as it is law for you to provide PPE.

The law is so strong that an employee can actually refuse to work if conditions are deemed unfit and dangerous and the employee in question is able to claim damages from the employer.

Interesting enough since the launch of the Ipod hearing loss in younger generations has increased by 25%.

Senses are a precious gift, please take care of them.

Thank you for reading

All the best and keep safe

Guy

Safety training and awareness

Hi All,

As I am fortunate enough to be assisting companies in in a few different working environments. It is interesting for me to see that throughout all the sectors the main reason companies fall short in safety is training.

They fall short as far as compliance goes but even more worrying is that incidents are continually occurring and training can make all the difference. By employees being aware of safety issues and hazards alone will minimize incidents and injuries.

Training as many staff members as you can means that there are more eyes looking out for the well being of your staff members and assets.

Training that is needed is:

safety awareness training and communication of the safety audit and risk assessments carried out.

Fire safety training this is useful for two reasons, the first is fire prevention, your staff get trained in identifying fire hazards and mitigating the risk and then extinguishing the fire if one occurs.

Evacuation training to alow enough of your staff members to have the confidence and ability to control their peers to exit the building safely.

Safety representative training is crucial to get trained personnel to help you continuously keep your safety system compliant as well as effective.

The final training is first aid training which is required to have in place for post incident application where you are able to minimize the effects of injuries caused by an incident.

Please let me know if you need any further information on any safety training required.

Thank you for your time.

All the best and be safe

Guy

The truth about employees

Hi All,

I was busy doing an audit in a factory last week and I noticed an employee performing an unsafe act. Myself obviously having safety at heart and being contracted by the company to observe and report safety issues. I mentioned to the employee that what he was doing is not safe and he can get seriously injured.

His response was was made quickly and proudly. He said ” It is ok if I get injured at work work will have to pay me” I was shocked but quickly learnt that a number of employees had the same philosophy.

The way to change this thought process and protect yourselves as managers and employers is training and awareness. The truth is, is that if you put in the correct steps and are compliant when an emplyee performes an unsafe or negligent act you have covered yourself and The compensation insurance will be all that is needed to compensate the employee.

Employees need to be made aware of their rites ans well as the employers rites. this in my experience gives employees a feeling of being part of a team with no tip toeing around what could be a tough issue.

As an employer it is vital to keep compliant so in the case of an incident you are not seen as negligent.

Thank you for your time

Keep safe

Guy

Construction safety compliance for contractors

Hi Everyone,

I have been working with a few contractors on various construction sites and I have noticed how much confusion there is with safety complaince.

Being a contractor on a site holds very similar responsibilities to having your own office. You need to be aware of hazards you may face around you and the risks that may occur due to the work you are doing.

There are specific findings and procedures that you need to include in your safety file to start off compliant and then you need to carry out periodic checks to maintain compliant.

You need to conduct a thorough risk assessment of the work you are doing and the tools you will be using. This should be done by a compitent and trained person. This should also be communicated to all of your staff members that will be working on site.

Safety training should be provided for fire and evacuation to one in every 20 people and records should be kept in the training section of the safety file.

A company needs to write up a safety plan and show proof of enforcing and committing to keep the safety standards at an acceptable level. Along with the plan a specific site work plan shall be drawn up and submitted and placed in the safety file.

Safe work procedures and work instructions need to be drawn up this gives the workforce a step by step of how to work, this should minimize the risks of the activities being carried out.

Once the safety file has been approved by the principal contractor safety officer you need to continue with safety checks and assessments. An area checklist shall be done before work starts checking to see that there are no extra hazards in the workspace.

Weekly toolbox talks shall be given and participants shall sign attendance records and filed in the safety file. Incident investigations need to be done with every incident even the near misses.

Monthly you need to carry out safety equipment checks, electrical and handtool inspections, general equipment inspections and a monthly summary shall be handed over to the principal contractor.

Not complying to these steps can result in a fine per finding. By having a compitent person handle the initial training and the safety files for your sites you are able to avoid fines and possible stoppages in work because of non-compliance.

For any assistance please call and I can help you efficiently and cost effectively.

Thanks for reading.

Think Safety

Guy