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Reporting of Work Related Incidents
 
Tinus Boshoff
 
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act) is minimum standard legislation providing among others for the health and safety of persons at work, and for the health and safety of persons in connection with the use of plant and machinery. The Act could be described as a pro-active attempt by government to avoid or prevent work related incidents, illness and diseases. Unfortunately due to a number of reasons work related incidents may still occur. The reporting; recording and investigation of work related incidents are therefore strictly regulated, and should form an essential part of any occupational health and safety program.
 
This article will focus on the prescriptions of the OHS Act that relate to the ''reporting of work related incidents''.

Firstly we need to have a closer look at the term ''incident''. Section 24(1) stipulates that certain types of incidents, occurring at work or arising out of or in connection with the activities of persons at work, or in connection with the use of plant or machinery, in which persons are involved must be reported to the provincial director.

Reportable incidents include events where any person:

  • dies;
  • becomes unconscious;
  • suffers the loss of a limb or part of a limb; or
  • is otherwise injured or becomes ill to such a degree that he is likely either to die; or
  • suffer a permanent physical defect; or
  • is likely to be unable for a period of at least 14 days either to work or to continue with the activity for which he was employed or is usually employed.

Based on Legislation in Section 24(a), of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Section 24(1)(b) similarly provides for the compulsive reporting of any major incident that occurred. That is an occurrence of catastrophic proportions, resulting from the use of plant or machinery, or from activities at a work place.

Based on Legislation in Section 24(b), of the Occupational Health and Safety Act

According to subsection (c), the following incidents endangering the health and safety of any person must also be reported to an inspector:

  • where a dangerous substance was spilled;
  • where the uncontrolled release of any substance under pressure took place;
  • where machinery or any part thereof fractured or failed resulting in flying, falling or uncontrolled moving objects; or
  • where machinery ran out of control.

Based on Legislation in Section 24(c), of the Occupational Health and Safety Act

General Administrative Regulation 8(3) similarly stipulates that whenever an incident arising out of or in connection with the activities of persons at work occur to persons other than employees, the employer must notify the provincial director of the occurrence.

The last mentioned report must contain the following information:

a) the name of the injured person;

b) the address of the injured person;

c) the name of the user, employer or self-employed person;

d) the address of the user, employer or self-employed person;

e) the telephone number of the user, employer or self-employed person;

f) the name of a contact person;

g) the details of the incident:

i) What happened;

ii) where it happened (place);

iii) when it happened (date and time);

iv) how it happened;

v) why it happened; and

h) the names of witnesses.

Based on Legislation in GAR 8(3) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act

We also need to look at the reporting of workplace incidents where machinery is involved.

According to regulation 7 of the General Machinery Regulations, the following incidents involving machinery must be reported to an inspector: 

  • Where machinery ran out of control as a result of the failure of a control or safety equipment and could have caused an injury to a person who had been conveyed on or in such machinery or had been in the vicinity thereof; or
  • the fracture or failure of any part of machinery in which gas is under pressure resulted in the sudden release of such gas.
Please note that it is a criminal offence not to report any of the above mentioned incidents.

But how should employers report the above mentioned incidents? The General Administrative Regulations as contained in the OHS Act provides guidelines in this regard. GAR 8(1)(b) stipulates that the employer shall, without delay report these incidents by telephone, facsimile or similar means of communication to the provincial director. It would however be advisable to keep a copy of the report as prove that the incident was reported to the director. If an injured person dies after notification, the employer or user must notify the Director of the death.

The contact details of the Provincial Director are provided in the GAR 1 and are as follows:

a) Provincial Director: Eastern Cape, DoL, Private Bag X9005, East London, 5200;

b) Provincial Director: Free State, DoL, P.O. Box 522, Bloemfontein, 9300;

c) Gauteng in the Magisterial Districts of:

i) Benoni, Bronkhorstspruit, Cullinan, Krugersdorp, Nigel, Pretoria, Randfontein, Soshanguve 1, Soshanguve 2, Springs and Wonderboom, means the Provincial Director: Gauteng North, DoL, P. O. Box 393, Pretoria, 0001; or

ii) Alberton, Boksburg, Brakpan, Germiston, Heidelberg, Johannesburg, Kemptonpark, Oberholzer, Randburg, Roodepoort, Vanderbijlpark, Vereeniging and Westonaria, means the Provincial Director: Gauteng South, DoL, P. O. Box 4560, Johannesburg, 2000;

d) Provincial Director: KwaZulu-Natal, DoL, P. 0. Box 940, Durban, 4000;

e) Provincial Director: Mpumalanga, DoL, Private Bag X7263, Witbank, 1035;

f) Provincial Director: Northern Cape, DoL, Private Bag X5102, Kimberley, 8300;

g) Provincial Director: Limpopo, DoL, Private Bag X9368, Pietersburg, 0700;\

h) Provincial Director: North West, DoL, Private Bag X1, Buhrmansdrif, 2867; or

i) Provincial Director: Western Cape, DoL, P. O. Box 872, Cape Town, 8000, 

Click here for the Labour Centres including contact details 

Based on Legislation in GAR 8(2), of the Occupational Health and Safety Act

The employer or user should keep record of all section 24 incidents and of any other incident where medical treatment or first aid is involved, as per Annexure 1 form of the General Administrative Regulations. These records need to be kept for a period of at least three years. 

Based on Legislation in GAR 9, of the Occupational Health and Safety Act

Please note that the incident site may not be disturbed without the consent of an inspector in the case where a person: 

  • Dies
  • Loss of limb or part of limb
  • Is likely to die

You may however:

  • Remove the injured or dead
  • Rescue persons from danger

This shall not apply to:

  • A traffic accident on a public road
  • An incident at a private household (SAPS-inspector must notify the Chief Inspector)
  • Accidents according to the Aviation Act 

Based on Legislation in Section 24(2), of the Occupational Health and Safety Act

I trust that you find the content of our newsletter useful and a good point of reference for future use.

For more information contact Tinus Boshoff This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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