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The importance of OHSA for Employees

Just as an Employer has a responsibility to safeguard the welfare of those in his/her employment, Employees have a responsibility towards the workplace and their colleagues to ensure a safe working environment. 

In a previous blog the Importance of OHSA for Employers was discussed, noting one of the key sections relating to their responsibilities. In this blog the Importance of OHSA for Employees is emphasised with reference to Section 14 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) 85 of 1993.

Health and Safety starts with yourself

An Employer often says, “Health and Safety will not work at my workplace”,The workers have been working like this for several years” and “You cannot change their habits”. Therefore, new awareness must be created and new habits formed, with employees gaining an understanding of what health and safety mean to their future. This starts with an understanding of Section 14 of the OHSA 85 of 1993, the Duties of the Employees.

What can an employer expect of an employee at work to ensure safe work practice?

Every employee in the workplace shall–

  • take reasonable care to safeguard him/herself and other persons;
  • co-operate with the employer to enable them to perform their duties and adhere to requirements;
  • carry out any lawful instruction and obey the health and safety rules and procedures laid down by the employer;
  • report as soon as practicable any unsafe or unhealthy situation to the employer;
  • report any incident that may affect his/her health, or which has caused injury to the employer within the same day it occurred.

Section 15 of the OHSA 85 of 1993 further states that the employee has a Duty not to interfere with, damage or misuse things as this may also cause harm to the employee and/or their colleagues.

Continuous awareness among employees and the involvement of employees during the life cycle of a Health and Safety System will assist in ensuring a Healthy and Safe working environment.

As mentioned in another blog on Health and Safety non-compliance, non-compliance with Health and Safety rules and procedures may have severe implications for Employees and the Company. These implications include loss of life, disability, absence from work, imprisonment and loss of a contract. As these implications are so severe, an Employer may implement disciplinary action against an employee who fails to perform their duties or adhere to Health and Safety requirements.

SERR Synergy protects the interests of those employed as well as those who employ many people to make sure that the relationship between employee and employer is lawful and mutually beneficial. If you require assistance with compliance orders contact us for professional guidance.

About the author: Ilse-Marie van de Wall started her career as a Human Resources and Industrial Relations Practitioner in 2007. She holds a degree from the University of Pretoria and certificates in both NEBOSH and SAMTRAC. She is currently studying towards a National Diploma in Safety Management at UNISA. As a professional Health and Safety Practitioner, she is registered with SAIOSH and the SACPCMP. She started working at SERR Synergy in 2016 as an Occupational Health and Safety Practitioner.

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