The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) requires employers to provide a safe and healthy environment for employees.
OHSA requirements are supported by several regulations and codes of practice that provide employers with guidelines on how the management health and safety issues. These regulations include:
Several codes of practice (COP) have been promulgated under other acts to provide companies with guidelines on how to handle specific occupational hygiene issues e.g. the COP on HIV and AIDS in the workplace published under the umbrella of the Employment Equity Act.
There are also legal limits for air impurities, noise, temperatures, amount of light, etc. that apply to a work environment. Companies must ensure that surveys are conducted at prescribed intervals to measure environmental conditions in the workplace to ensure these are within legal limits.
Companies in south Africa must register with the Workmen’s Compensation Fund and comply with the reporting requirements associated with the fund. Companies pay an annual fee into this fund based on the number of employees, the risk profile of their industry and their accidents at work history,
The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA) 130 of 1993 sets out the legal requirements for tariffs, compensation and the limitations for claims for workers who are injured, or who contract diseases while they’re at work.
Occupational health is becoming an increasingly complex field. In a dynamic environment where requirements for occupational health and safety at work are continually evolving, the need for specialist knowledge and understanding of policy, compliance requirements and strategy for effective implementation becomes critical.
International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA)
IOHA was formally established, during a meeting in Montreal, on June 2, 1987. At present IOHA has the participation of 19 national occupational hygiene associations, with over nineteen thousand members from seventeen countries.
The primary objective of IOHA is to promote and develop occupational hygiene throughout the world, at a high level of professional competence, through means that include the exchange of information among organisations and individuals, the further development of human resources and the promotion of a high standard of ethical practice. IOHA activities include scientific meetings and publication of a newsletter. Members of affiliated associations are automatically members of IOHA; it is also possible to join as an individual member, for those in countries where there is not yet a national association.
OHSA requirements include the development of a formal health and safety program. Companies can have their health and safety programs certificated in accordance with international standards such as OHSA 18001 and ISO 45001.
These internationally accepted standards provide companies with guidelines on how to implement an occupational health and safety management system.
Certification bodies are organisations registered and accredited by SANNAS as competent to evaluate a company’s OHS management system for compliance against a specific international standard. These bodies can issue a company with a certificate of compliance and will conduct a surveillance audit at predetermined annual intervals to verify continued compliance. Certificates of compliance are valid for 3 years after which period the company will be assessed again before being issued with a new certificate of compliance.
Certification to an international standard provides companies with an internationally acceptable level of occupational health and safety management, a requirement that is becoming more and more necessary for trading activities.