By Sanette Viljoen
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act 85 of 1993) places an obligation on employers to provide a work environment that is safe and without health risks. This act also places an obligation on employees to take reasonable care of their own health or safety while they are on duty.
The most important aspect, however, is that in the case of an injury on duty, another act takes over. The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases (Act 130 of 1993) makes provision for an employee to claim compensation for damage suffered as a result of an injury. It is, however, very important to follow the correct procedures as the Act is fairly strict in this regard. Many employers and employees often fall into the trap of not following the correct procedure in this regard.
What is the employer’s responsibilities regarding the provision of a work environment that is safe and without health risks?
– The plant and machinery must be properly maintained and they must be safe and without risks.
– Reasonable steps must be taken to reasonably limit danger and potential danger to the safety of employees.
– Arrangements must be made for the safety and absence of risks regarding all products and the use, handling and transportation of hazardous materials.
– It must be ascertained what dangers are associated with particular services, in other words, what are the risks that go with each particular task that an employee performs?
– Steps must be taken to ensure that employees do not work with materials or articles or work in plants that expose their health and safety to risks.
– Properly trained people must be present in plants and around machinery associated with the dangers of the particular service and those people must understand it well.
All employers are therefore tasked to provide a safe work environment.
The responsibilities of an employee:
– He should take reasonable care with regard to his own health and safety and also that of other workers.
– He must not be careless himself and endanger other people’s lives.
– He must cooperate with the employer to facilitate and make possible all the employer’s requirements.
– He must lodge a report if in his opinion an unhealthy or unsafe situation arises that should be brought to the attention of the employer.
– He must immediately report it if an incident takes place or could take place that could potentially cause damage.
It is important to note that should an employee be injured or become sick in the course of his or her service, not only the employee but also his dependants have a right to compensation by the Compensation Commissioner. The same applies if an employee contracts a disease due to prolonged exposure to certain circumstances in the workplace.