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The Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act 85 of 1993) is based on the principle that work related hazards, risk and dangers should be addressed by good communication and cooperation between management and employees.

     

The act promotes a culture of health and safety that includes the appointment of health and safety representatives and the establishment of health and safety committees for the workplace. Employers and health and safety committees have  legal duties and functions that must be complied with.

 

What is the purpose of health and safety committees?

Members meet to initiate, promote, maintain and review measures of ensuring the health and safety of workers.

 

When to form a committee

One or more health and safety committee(s) must be established when employers have appointed two or more health and safety representatives or when inspectors from the Department of Labour instruct the employers to do so.

 

Based on Legislation in section 19, of the Occupational Health and Safety Act

 

Employer's duties

The employer should decide on the number of health and safety committee members. In other words the number of persons that would form part of the committee is left to the discretion of the employer, the so called ''self regulation principal'' applies.

      

It is Important to note that the number of employer nominees (persons other than health and safety representatives) may not exceed the number of health and safety representative acting on the committee. The intention of the legislator is to have a balance between the number of representatives and any other persons acting on the committee. The employer must consult with the committee with a view to initiate, develop, promote, maintain and review measures to ensure the health and safety of his employees at work.

    

The employer needs to appoint committee members -  in writing -  for specified period. Please note that this is a compulsory legal appointment, basically the same as the appointment of the health and safety representative for the workplace. The employer should also ensure that committees conduct formal meetings at least once every 3 months and that the committee complies with the prescriptions of the Act. 

 

Based on Legislation in section 19, of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 

 

The employer must provide a suitable meeting place for committee meetings.

Based on Legislation in section 20, of the Occupational Health and Safety Act
    
Committee's duties 

  • Committees must make and keep records of recommendations to employers and inspectors;
  • Where these recommendations do not lead to solving the matter, the committee must make recommendations to an inspector.
  • Shall discuss, report and keep records of incidents in which someone is killed, injured, or becomes ill
  • Shall discuss incidents, injuries, illness, death and must report on an incident in writing to an inspector
  • Shall perform their functions as prescribed
  • Shall keep records of recommendations (for a minimum period of at least 3 years)   

Who determines the procedure at the meeting? 

There are no prescriptions pertaining to the matter. This is left to the discretion of the employer. Members of the committee normally elect the chairperson and determine his or her period of office, the meeting times, the place of the meeting, procedures etc.

   

May health and safety committees consult experts for advice? 

Yes, committees may co-opt people as advisory members for their knowledge and expertise on health and safety matters. However, an advisory member does not have the right to vote.

  

Liability
The committee or a committee member shall not incur any civil liability if the committee or he/ she failed to do anything which the committee or he/ she may do or is required to do. Based on Legislation in section 20, of the Occupational Health and Safety Act

    

Record keeping
Records of meetings need to be kept for a period of at least 3 years.

Based on Legislation in GAR 5, of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

 

For more information contact Tinus on (012) 666 8284,  083 659 2840 or

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