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UNDERSTANDING THE PURPOSE OF THE OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY ACT, 1993 (NO.85)



The Act, known as the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 (Act 85, 1993) consists of 50 sections approved by Parliament. The purpose of the Act is to provide for the health and safety of people at work or in connection with the use of plant and machinery.


The Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993, requires the employer to bring about and maintain, as far as reasonably practicable, a work environment that is safe and without risk to the health of the workers.


What is an example of occupational health and safety?

OHS is a field of public health that focuses on improving mental and physical conditions at work and controlling recognized hazards. For example, OHS may involve controlling excessive noise, managing radiation exposure, or ensuring employees have ergonomic equipment.


What are Occupational Health and Safety Requirements?

  • Conducting health and safety risk assessments and hazard identification;

  • Controlling risks and effective risk management;

  • Establishing structurally sound safety committees;

  • Incident investigations and implementing corrective action to prevent recurrence.


What is occupational health?

  1. Occupational health is an integrative field that focuses on maintaining the physical, mental, and social well-being of employees. It involves improving work conditions and developing a positive safety culture. Disciplines of occupational health include:

  2. Occupational medicine: This field focuses on maintaining health and preventing diseases, accidental injuries, and loss at work.

  3. Occupational health psychology: This area concerns the application of psychology to protecting the health of employees and improving work environments.

  4. Occupational hygiene: This is the discipline of protecting employees by controlling workplace hazards.

  5. Ergonomics: This is the process of designing workplace facilities and tools to meet user needs and prevent health issues.


What is occupational safety?

Occupational safety focuses on preventing accidents and incidents in the workplace. An incident refers to an unplanned event without significant consequences, such as a near miss, while an accident is an unexpected event leading to serious consequences. Occupational safety involves the following:


Safety risk assessments:

This is an extensive process of identifying potential situations, processes, or items that may harm people and analyzing the likelihood of safety issues occurring.


Workplace inspections:

This is a proactive process of identifying potential hazards to individuals as they work.


Corrective actions:

This is a reactive process of preventing safety issues from recurring.

 

Benefits of health and safety management at work

Promoting safe and healthy work practices helps you to protect employees from hazards and improves efficiency and productivity by preventing absenteeism. It can also help increase employee retention because team members are more likely to remain in their positions if an organisation prioritizes health and safety. For example, if you provide all employees with personal protective equipment, it shows that you care about the employees' health and safety, which may encourage team members to continue in their positions.


Emphasizing OHS also helps to improve an organisation's reputation. For example, if you offer to help an employee pay for medical bills resulting from an accident that occurs in their home, it demonstrates that you value the team member's contributions and care about their health. A positive work safety reputation can help an organisation attract talented employees.



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