Addressing shop-stewards, occupational health and safety representatives, nurses and doctors from health institutions at a two-day seminar aimed at engaging and capacitating public health care stakeholders on the legislation and developments made in the sector, Tibor Szana, Chief Inspector at the Department of Labour said:
“No country will be economically sound unless employers realise that workers’ rights are human rights. No country can afford deaths or injuries that take place in the workplace and also the burden that this places on a country’s social security system”.
Research has long shown that the implementation of Occupational Health and Safety programmes adds value through improving quality and productivity in the workplace. Szana’s follows a series of inspections conducted in the public health care sector which presented gross levels of non-compliance. “80 percent compliance is not enough; compliance needs to be at 100 percent - Zero tolerance!” he added.
Brenig Moore, Technical Director at Astutis commented:
“Everyone should have a basic right to come home safe at the end of their working day – legislation is in place for this very reason and it is the responsibility of employers to ensure that they are compliant, no matter where in the world or what industry they work in. Not only does this come with the obvious benefits for individuals and their families, but when companies engage proactively on the subject of health and safety in the workplace, they will start to reap the rewards elsewhere – in productivity, cost savings and ultimately in profit margins.”
Section 8 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act states that ‘every employer shall provide and maintain, as far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risks’. In stark contrast with the Act, the results of 407 inspections conducted in all nine provinces in the public health care sector in 2014/2015 revealed that only 91 facilities complied, 316 did not comply – corresponding to a Hazardous Biological Agents (HBA) compliance level of just 22%.
Milly Ruiters – Occupational Health and Hygiene Director at the Department of Labour, presented a 2-year comparison of compliance for inspections in the public health care sector.
Some of the reasons for non-compliance included:
Due to poor compliance levels across the sector, the Chief Inspector has directed the heath care sector to prepare an OHS policy, in accordance with Section 7 of the OHS act. Ruiters said:
“Employers now have to prepare a written policy concerning the protection of the health and safety of employees at work, including a description of the organisation and the arrangements for carrying out and review the policy within two years from the date of the notice. The due date for this process is April 2017 where Labour inspectors will visit health care establishments to ensure compliance with the directive of the Chief Inspector.”