Up-to-date Safety News

MEDIA  RELEASE

13 July 2022

 

Health and safety officials should know the occupational laws inside-out – Department of Employment and Labour tells shopstewards

 

Health and Safety representatives should be knowledgeable and alert about conditions that pose a risk to the lives of employees in the workplace, a workshop was told in Lephalale, Limpopo, this week.

 

Jakes Malatse, Senior Specialist: Electrical and Mechanical Engineering at the Department of Employment and Labour, was speaking at the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases (COID) and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) training for shopstewards.

 

The training sessions are being conducted in several parts of the country.

 

“A health and safety representative should be a full-time employee who is aware of the hazards in the workplace. When you appoint people to those positions you want someone who is astute and well versed with the regulation governing a particular industry.

 

“Such people will be better equipped to represent and protect workers. It defeats the purpose of health and safety if you appoint people who are not well versed with the regulations governing the sector,’’ he said.

 

“We expect shopstewards to be trainers of trainers. Such people have to access information at their fingertips relating to incidents in the workplace pertaining to injuries – diseases or deaths,” Malatse said.

 

He said the key responsibility of health and safety shopstewards is to be the ‘eyes and ears’ of the Department of Employment and Labour in ensuring that workers and communities are protected from dangers emanating from site.

 

“Their key responsibility is health and safety not production. If a health and safety representative is being victimised for doing his/her work diligently, the case should be reported to the nearest Labour Centre,” he said.

 

Earlier, Stephen Mokgethi, OHS principal inspector: Mechanical engineering said functions of Health and Safety representative include:

  • Review of the effectiveness of health and safety measures;

  • Identify potential hazards and major incidents at the workplace;

  • Examine the causes of incidents at the workplace; and

  • Investigate complaints by any employee relating to the employee’s health or safety at work.

 

Mokgethi said the employer had a duty to report incidents to the Department especially if someone has been killed – suffered serious injuries or illness that keeps them away from work longer than 14 days.

 

He said the role of health and safety representative in protecting workers and neighbouring communities was vital.

 

Mokgethi said for effective health and safety to occur, it was vital for collective ownership of responsibilities as is co-operation between employers and employee representatives.

 

 

-ENDS-

Issued by: Department of Employment and Labour

 

 

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