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If a DoL safety inspector comes to your workplace, do you know what he'll focus on most?

by , 24 November 2014
The Department of Labour (DoL) is in charge of overseeing every aspect of workplace compliance. This ranges from fair labour practices to basic working conditions and health and safety.

For the DoL to assess these various areas of compliance, it sends out inspectors to assess companies.

So if a DoL inspector walks into your company, be prepared for him to assess your compliance with the Employment Equity Act (EEA), the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). He'll assess all of them and he'll ask you questions about all of them.

But there is one he'll focus on more than others.

Do you know which one it is?

 
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Here's the compliance area the DoL inspector will focus on the most

 
A report from the DoL states that when inspectors carry out these inspections they do so with a set of questions. There are 16 questions on employment equity, 37 on the basic conditions of employment and 39 on workplace health and safety.
 
This means the DoL inspector will focus more on his time inspecting your workplace health and safety so he can answer these 39 questions.
 
Here are 18 of these 39 questions:
 
Question #1Have you registered with the Compensation Fund?
Question #2Have you registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF)?
Question #3Do you have a copy of the OHSA and regulations on premise and available for your employees to read?
Question #4Do you display the summary of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act?
Question #5Do you display the summary of the Employment Equity Act?
Question #6Have you appointed Health and Safety Representatives?
Question #7Have you established a Health and Safety Committee in your workplace?
Question #8Do you and your employees have OHS training to recognise safety issues?
Question #9Have you put in the correct guards for all moving parts like drive belts and chains?
Question #10Have you stored your chemicals in a safe place?
Question #11Have you clearly marked the emergency exits and are they easily accessible?
Question #12: Are fire extinguishers accessible?
Question #13Do you use and store flammable materials correctly?
Question #14Do you have a fully equipped first-aid kit?
Question #15Have you insulated all electrical wires?
Question #16Do you report injuries at work to the Department of Labour (DoL)?
Question #17: Do you have clean and hygienic toilets and washing facilities provided for males and females?
Question #18Do you have an attendance register at your workplace?
 
So what happens if you fail to answer any of these questions during the inspection? 
 
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Here's what will happen if you fail the DoL health and safety inspection

 
If you fail this part of the inspection, you're guilty lyof breaking the law under the OHS Act. This means the inspector can prosecute you. According to the DoL prosecutions after an inspection is called 'prosecution ex-inspection'.
 
But before the inspector can slap you with a harsh penalty, he must first carry out particular procedures to enforce the prosecution.  
 
First he must:
 
- Check there's a section or regulation in health and safety legislation that covers your non-compliance.
- Check your non-compliance is actually an offence in terms of the OHS Act.
- Check there's a clear penalty for your non-compliance.
- Draw up an affidavit that clear states and identifies the different elements of your non-compliance.
- Get approval from his supervisor to ensure the affidavit is complete and correct.
- From there, the prosecution goes into the system for further processing.
- He'll ask the registrar of companies for the names and address of the company's directors.
- And send a letter on behalf of the Provincial Executive Manager to the Senior Public Prosecutor to inform you of the legal action it will take against you.
 
Then it's a matter of preparing the case for court.
 
As you can see, failing a DoL health and safety inspection means months of admin and legal battles and could result in prohibitions, company shut downs, a R1 million fine and even jail time.
 
Rather ensure your health and safety is 100% compliant with the OHS Act so you can pass all 39 DoL health and safety questions. 
 
Check out the Health and Safety Advisor to find out how to do this.
 


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