OHS Act Amendment detail
The OHS Act Amendment Bill due in 2017 (which is dated 2014, when the amendments started,) will be circulated for comment soon. The DOL advised employers that:
- Site-specific OHS risk assessments, plans, and systems (to be defined), by competent persons, appointed in writing relevant to each identified risk, would be required.
- Appointment of OHS Reps will become compulsory, no longer optional.
- The Chief Inspector may require and OHS Rep on sites with fewer than 20 workers.
- Labour unions want to reduce the minimum number of employees requiring a Health and Safety Representative and Committee, from 20 to 10, which would impact many SMEs.
- Groups of small employers may choose to share an OHS Committee and OHS Rep, but it will not be required. The DOL may subsidise such a practice.
- Negotiation with workers on OHS measures will become compulsory.
- The DOL may provide PPE support to some employers.
OHS Act Amendment comment expected
- Articles on sale must have OHS instructions attached.
- Some employers exclude incidents, injuries and diseases suffered by small contractors. Public comment on this issue is expected.
- Approved Inspection Authorities (AIAs) that are required for certain functions relevant to asbestos, Major Hazard Installations, and some others, are too expensive. Public comment on this issue is expected.
New OHS Act regulations
- Ergonomics Regulations will be added to the OHS Act (see a separate report on Sheqafrica.com).
- General Safety Regulations, Facilities Regulations, and environmental health and safety measures, would be combined.
- Hazardous chemicals handlers would have to follow the Globally Harmonised System (GHS) rules.
- Hazardous Substances Regulations and Lead Regulations would be combined.
- Asbestos Abatement Regulations are under review.
- Silicosis and hearing loss management will be better enforced.
- A guideline on compliance with the OHS Act review of 2017 will follow.
New OHS Act spot fines
- Labour inspectors will have two mechanisms of enforcement: prosecution, and/or administrative fines (‘spot’ fines) ranging between R20 000 to R50 000 per relevant section of the OHS Act, thus some employers may receive several fines after a DOL inspection. These fines would apply to all employers, including small businesses. (see an advocates’ comments on the proposed changes in administrative fines, in another report on Sheqafrica.com).
Compensation registration online from 2017
The Compensation Fund (CF) said employers would be able to register online from March 2017. Labour union Solidarity noted that the fund tended to trust submissions by employers, not workers.
The Compensation Commissioner responded that the fund is “careful of employers who could take legal action. However it is worrying that most compensation payments are made to employers and to medical service providers, not to workers”, which may be open to fraud. Sheqafrica.com – Tibor Szana – Chief Inspector – Department of Labour.
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