How safe is your business workplace and do you need safety representatives?

On Insurance Chat we discuss business insurance in more detail – and we make specific reference to insurance as a necessity to protect business owners from crime and natural disasters.

It is however also important to protect employees from harm and injury at work and there are very specific pieces of legislation requiring measures to enhance safety at the workplace.

The Accidents Blog has been forwarded an article on the appointment of Health and Safety Representatives for the Workplace. This has been compiled by Tinus Boshoff and appeared on

This article provides important guidance to business owners on the appointment and duties of safety representatives.

We would like to quote from this article to emphasize the importance of Safety at the Workplace.

The Appointment of Health and Safety Representatives for the Workplace

According to Section 17 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act 85 of 1993), employers who employ 20 or more workers on premises must appoint representatives to monitor health and safety conditions.

One of the key principals of the OHS Act is that work related hazards, risks and dangers should be addressed through good communication between management and employees. Appointed representatives represent workers regarding safety and health matters to management. Representative’s forms part of an important link between management and the rest of the organisations employees.

The appointment of health and safety representatives is a legal requirement; representatives need to be designated in writing, for a specified period of time. It is important to note that the appointment of representatives should be done in accordance with the agreement as contemplated in the General Administrative Regulations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

General Administrative Regulation 6 stipulates that after commencing business, the employer in any workplace where there must be a health and safety representative, must meet with the registered trade unions in order to enter into negotiations to conclude a collective agreement. Where there is no registered trade union, the employer must enter into consultation with all employee representatives of the workplace.

Issues to be included in a Collective Agreement

During these negotiations the following issues must be discussed in order to reach a collective agreement:

* Nomination or election of health and safety representatives

* Terms of office, circumstances and matter in which they can be removed

* Manner in which vacancies are to be filled

* Manner in which health and safety representatives must perform their functions in terms of the act

* Facilities, training and assistance that must be provided to a health and safety representative

But how many representatives should actually be appointed for the workplace?

According to section 17 of the OHS Act, shops and offices must have at least 1 representative for every 100 workers or part thereof. All other workplaces must have at least 1 representative for every 50 workers or part thereof.

Who should be to appointed?

The same section stipulates that representatives should be full-time workers who are familiar with the workplace.

When should representation activities be performed?

According to the Act, representation activities must be performed during ordinary working hours.

Functions of Health and Safety Representatives (Section 18 of the OHS Act)

It is the employer’s duty to ensure that representatives are properly empowered to perform their duties as health and safety representatives.

Representatives are entitled to attend incident investigations and enquiries, inspect documents and participate in internal health and safety audits.

What may these Representatives do?

* Review effectiveness of health and safety measures

* Identify potential hazards and major incidents

* Examine causes of incidents

* Investigate complaints

* Advise the committee and the employer

Representatives shall be entitled to:

* Visit incidents sites and attend inspections

* Attend any investigation or formal inquiry

* Inspect any document related to health and safety matters

* Accompany an inspector

* Be accompanied by technical advisor if approved by the employer

* Participate in internal audits

Representatives not liable:

A representative shall not incur any civil liability if he failed to do anything which he may do or is required to do.

[For more information please contact Tinus Boshoff on]

Also view:

Accidents Blog

Mining Safety

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