540 000. That is the number of yearly slip and fall accidents which require hospital care. Workplace injuries are frequent occurrences especially when heavy machinery is involved or dangerous tasks need to be completed. An injury on duty (“IOD”) is a personal injury, illness or death of an employee arising out of an accident in the course of an employee’s employment.
Risk increases in the case of illiterate and unskilled workers. An IOD has huge cost implications for the employer with regards to the injury on duty, absence due to the injury, as well as the employment of a temporary person are expenses not always budgeted for.
A basic starting point to curb the initial impact of facing IOD or preventing an occupational disease, is to ensure that all of the necessary health and safety aspects for your industry are in place and functioning effectively.
The following regulates workplace safety and occupational diseases compliance and must be in place and functioning effectively:
- Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”),
- Compensation for Occupational Injury and Diseases Act (“COIDA”)
- The employer’s policies, procedures and disciplinary code.
Rules in the workplace
Rules in the workplace are implemented through the disciplinary code and various policies and procedures. Employers can implement rules relating to employees’ behaviour with regards to health and safety. A disciplinary code is vital to ensure that there are clear rules and procedures in the workplace for the employees to follow. When these rules and procedures are not followed, the employer can apply progressive discipline (warnings). In cases of severe misconduct employers can proceed directly to a disciplinary hearing. A few examples of rules relating to health and safety in the workplace can include the following:
- Unauthorised use of equipment and machinery is not allowed.
- Making use of prescribed personal protective equipment.
- Use of machinery/equipment/material in a manner endangering the employer’s property and/or own/other employees’ health and safety is not allowed.
- Use of machinery under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is not allowed.
What should employers do?
By implementing a health and safety policy and bringing such policy to the knowledge of the employees, and employer:
- takes reasonable steps to eliminate or mitigate any hazard or potential hazard and minimising risk and liability;
- establishes what hazards are associated with any work, article, substance, plant or machinery which is performed or used and establish the precautionary measures to be taken in respect of such work;
- provides information, instructions, training and supervision as may be necessary;
- does not permit any employee to do any work, handle any substance or article or operate any plant or machinery unless the precautionary measures as set out in the policy, have been taken;
- takes all necessary measures to ensure that every person in employment or on the premises and under the control of the employer complies with OHSA’s requirements.
Employers, take note!
Employers must take care to enforce the disciplinary code, policies and procedures continuously and consistently to maintain discipline in the workplace and to minimise risks. Clear rules in the workplace limits conflict, friction and misunderstandings. This, in turn, creates a structured work environment. Compliance with labour law is not negotiable and poses a great risk to the employer and business.
It is the employer’s duty to provide a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of its employees. By creating a safe and risk free working environment, the employer ensures the sustainability and productivity of his/her business.
Contact the LWO for any advise and assistance with the above mentioned. We are available 24/7.
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