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Is your company's generator legally compliant with the OHS Act?

by , 04 March 2013
With intermittent electricity supply being a concern for many businesses, most companies have a generator on the premise to deal with Eskom blackouts. But here's the thing that few of us ever think of: Your company's generator could be a health and safety risk. Read on to discover how and what safety precautions you can take to protect your employees.

If you plan to use, or are using, a generator at your workplace, there are certain safety precautions you must take to protect your employees from the health and safety risks they pose.

Failure to do so could result in a R1 000 fine or six months in jail, as well as some serious accidents in the workplace.

Company generators pose four health and safety risks

Regardless of whether your company has a petrol, diesel or silent diesel generator, there are four health and safety risks they pose for your employees, explains the Health and Safety Advisor:

Risk #1: Fire hazard. Fuel vapours and leaks can explode if they come into contact with a spark or flame.
Risk #2: Electrical hazard. Ensure your generator is properly grounded to prevent electrocution.
Risk #3: Noise pollution.
Risk #4: Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. A fatal colourless and odourless gas.

What safety precautions must you take when it comes to a company generator?

Apart from regularly maintaining and servicing your company's generator, you should also adhere to the following safety precautions advised in the Health and Safety Advisor:

  • Don't smoke or use an open flame near generator fuel.
  • Store generator fuel in metal or other non-flammable container.
  • Generators heat up when they're used so don't store fuel near it.
  • Don't refill your generator when it's running.
  • Make sure you have a fire extinguisher near your generator in case of fire.
  • Make sure your generator doesn't stand on damp or wet ground to prevent electrocution.
  • All generator circuits must be protected by Ground Fault Interrupters (GFIs) that have been installed by a qualified electrical contractor.
  • Ensure that employees who work on or near the generator have been given ear plugs to protect their hearing. Don't forget to check these regularly to ensure they comply with health and safety regulations.
  • Make sure your generator is not in an enclosed room that has no ventilation as CO fumes can build up. Preferably, place your generator outside under a canopy away from windows and doors.
So there you have it. By following these safety precautions, you can ensure your company's generator doesn't put your employees' health and safety at risk.

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