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To avoid a hefty health and safety fine, you need to answer 'yes' to the DoL's eight questions

by , 12 February 2013
The Department of Labour recently issued 10 949 companies with notices for failing to comply with aspect of the Occupation Health and Safety Act (OHSA). Not only were these companies served with thousands of rands worth of fine, but 1230 companies also had to stop production completely for failing to comply. Don't let your company join them in 2013! Make sure you can confidently answer 'YES' to these eight DoL health and safety inspection questions.

From time to time, the Department of Labour will send health and safety inspectors to visit your workplace to check your company's level of compliance with the OHSA. 
If you can't answer 'yes' to the following eight questions during a health and safety inspection, you could be liable for an additional R200 fine (or one-day's imprisonment) for every day the offence continues, warns OHSA auditor Edmund Galvin in The Health and Safety Advisor.
Can you answer 'YES' to all eight health and safety inspection questions?
#1: Did you and your employees consult one another about the appointment of your company's HSE rep? 
If you answer yes, you have to be able to prove that you followed a nomination process in electing your company's HSE rep, that you've agreed on their terms of office and their role in the company.  
#2: Did you appoint at least one Health and Safety Representative for every 100 workers, or part thereof (between 20 and 100 workers)?
Remember, if you employ more than 20 people in your shop or office, the Department of Labour (DoL) requires that you have at least one HSE rep.  If you run a factory, you'll need an HSE rep for every 50 people you employ. 
#3: Are your HSE reps members of your full-time staff?
According to Section 17 of the OHSA, you can only appoint full-time workers as HSE reps as they're fully acquainted with the conditions and activities at your workplace.
#4: Can your HSE reps perform all required activities regarding health and safety appointment, functions and training during normal working hours?
You can't ask your HSE rep to only perform his functions after his shift is over – it must be done during working hours. So make sure your HSE rep is able to perform all his health and safety functions and training in normal working hours. 
#5: Did you appoint all health and safety representatives in writing?
Appointment of a HSE rep is a legal document and must be made in writing. 
#7: Have you empower your health and safety representatives with the tools, training and authority they need to:
Identify potential dangers?
Conduct health and safety inspections and audits?
Investigate incidents?
Make recommendations regarding safety?
#8: Do all your Health and Safety Committees function as follows?
Hold meetings as often as necessary, but at least once every three months?
Make recommendations to you regarding health and safety matters?
Discuss incidents?
Keep records of all recommendations carried out?
Bottom line: By being able to answer 'yes' to all eight of these questions, you can prove that your company takes your company's health and safety seriously. If you can't, make sure you rectify it today – before the DoL drops in unannounced to inspect you. 
Go to chapter I03 and D03 of your Health and Safety Advisor, we show you how to make sure you're prepared for your health and safety inspection!

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