As today is World Day for Safety and Health at Work, and a spokesperson for Occupational Health SA (OCSA) says that our country’s assets the working population of about 13 million people is highly exposed because most workplaces still ignore mandatory actions stemming from the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Despite South Africa’s comprehensive legislation on creating healthy and safe working environments, Dr Terry Berelowitz, Medical Director for OCSA believes that most of this country’s employees are not as protected as they should be. His view is that the legislation is toothless – there are no penalties or efficient monitoring in place.
The legislation is often ignored which leaves our country’s assets - our working population of about 13 million people exposed.
“Ironically it is the people who fuel this country’s economy – those who work in the factories, offices, mines and yards who are not fully protected from exposure to dusts, gasses, fumes and noise. There is another level where the South African workforce should be better protected from issues such as bullying, discrimination, stress and ergonomic hazards,” says Berelowitz.
“On the whole, knowledge of the legislative requirement is sadly lacking and we need more support from the government and the unions to ensure that the codes and practices are applied more vigorously in South Africa."
Worldwide, April 28 is used to remind and motivate employers, unions and health and safety representatives of the legislation they should be applying in workplaces across the globe. OCSA provides professional health and wellness services to over 540 companies nationally. Although large corporates are largely compliant, there is a long way to go to ensure that South African workplaces are safe and healthy.
Important things businesses should do:
· Educate their employees on the hazards and risks in their workplace.
· Provide protection to all employees in workplace environments that could endanger their health.
· Regularly assess the workplace for possible hazards and risks to the employee.
· Conduct risk based medical examinations to monitor and manage employee health & wellness.
The bottom line is that health, safety and wellness in the workplacecan save billions of Rands.
(Press release, April 2010)
Dr Terry Berelowitz is Health24's Workplace Health Expert, post him a question here about your work-related issues.