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Who's in charge of health and safety communication in your company?

by , 24 April 2015
Here's something you probably don't know: It doesn't matter what your job title is, if you're in charge of communications then you're in charge of communicating your health and safety plans and procedures to your staff.

Here's why...

Your legal obligations for your health and safety communication system

Your main duty is to provide the right information, instructions, training and supervision to ensure the health and safety of your employees (Section 8 of the OHSA). You must also communicate certain health and safety rules and procedures to them. Training, instructions, information, posters, safety talks and other media all form part of your communication system.

You also need to keep records for proof of communication using either an attendance register, distribution register or some similar record where each employee must sign they got the communication. Remember, any manager involved in your health and safety must be competent. This means they need to be trained on the OHS Act and regulations.

Here are the four reasons you must have a health and safety communication system  

1. Create an environment where you and your employees have enough knowledge, skills and motivation to achieve your Occupational Health and Safety programme objectives. All of these help prevent deaths and injuries at the workplace.  

Read on for the other three reasons to have a health and safety communication system...

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Your 1 527 health and safety duties as an employer

When was the last time you checked what disinfecting agents and cleaning materials your company uses?  

Do you comply with the Hazardous Chemical Regulations?  

There are over 1 500 items you must evaluate in your workplace according to the OHS Act and hundreds more from SABS 0400: National Building regulations.  

Health and safety laws apply to EVERY company, if you have more than 20 employees you have even  greater obligations.


Another three reasons you should have a health and safety communication system in place

2. Improve the work quality of your workplace.

3. Reduce down time, which increases productivity – Your employees waste less time not knowing what to do, because it's been communicated, and this means they have more time to actually do the work.

4. Reduce absenteeism. If you involve staff more, they're less likely to stay away; and rehabilitation time after an injury is shorter.  

Note that a good communication system shows your employees you care about their well-being. Your managers will see that with the right motivation and knowledge, your employees add value to the company's aims and  objectives.

Before you implement a health and safety communication system, plan what you're going to do. And what you want to achieve. If you don't communicate properly, it'll be hard to implement a new system later as your employees won't trust you.

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