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Protect your workplace from the start: The aim and scope of evironmental regulations in the OHS Act!

by , 04 March 2015
The Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) has launched its new Green Star SA Interiors tool. The new project encourages tenants to rate the interior fit-outs of their premises with the overall aim of encouraging a reduced environmental impact of its interior projects.

"We are excited to launch this pioneering new tool for South Africa, and believe that it will help transform thousands of offices, shops, restaurants and many other places, in existing and new buildings across the country, into sustainable green spaces," Brian Wilkinson, CEO of the GBCSA, stated for bizcommunity.com.

What plans do you have for your own company? Here are some new ideas for making it more efficient as you seek to keep it in line with the environmental regualtions in the OHS Act!

The initiators agree that working sustainably makes sound business sense and that it also represents a productive space for the employees.

They also place focus on the energy reduction at the workplace!

"A healthy building means happier employees and improved productivity. Businesses will be in a better position to retain talented staff and fast-track behavioural change," says Wilkinson.

With this in mine, you must follow the OHS Act to ensure the safety and health of persons at work in connection with the use of plant and machinery.

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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.


In addition, you must provide for the protection of people other than people at work from hazards arising out of or in connection with the activities from people at work. This is part of your health and safety environmental obligations.

Through the Act, government tries to prevent and avoid work related injuries and illness for both workers and the environment.

Note that mines, or mining areas, ships, fishing boats and floating cranes are the areas that are not governed by the OHS Act and fall outside the scope of the Act.

If you don't have a legislation that prohibits a certain activity, then as far as this Act is concerned, a person is allowed to do so, as long as it falls within the reasonable practical principle.

With the above mentioned in mind, lets have a look at the reasonably practicable principle, based on Legislation in Section 1, of the Occupational Health and Safety Act!

 - be strict about the severity and scope of the hazard and risk concerned

-  know the necessary information concerning the hazard and risk and of any means of removing or mitigating that hazard or risk

- make sure all means to remove or mitigate that hazard or risk are available

- you have to have a clear idea about the cost of removing or mitigating that hazard or risk in relation to the benefits deriving there from!

As an employer, you should do everything reasonably practicable to protect your employees from harm! In doing this, you also need to consider the environment and how to keep it safe.

You can find a full copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act here.

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