The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation which is being amended is due to be released for public comment in the not too distant future, said Department of Labour Chief Inspector, Tibor Szana.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (No. 85 of 1993) provides for the health and safety of persons at work and for the health and safety of persons in connection with the use of plant and machinery; the protection of persons other than persons at work against hazards to health and safety arising out of or in connection with the activities of persons at work; to establish an advisory council for occupational health and safety; and to provide for matters connected therewith.
Szana said OHS is about sustainability, "we cannot exist in a chaotic environment. The future is uncertain. We do not know what tomorrow holds. Sustainability means a future for all".
He was addressing the Department of Labour's three-day OHS Conference which started today at The Lakes Hotel & Conference Centre in Benoni, Gauteng.
The conference is held under the theme: "Sustaining OHS within SMME environment through innovative solutions". The Department of Labour is hosting the OHS Conference to create awareness and address Occupational Health and Safety issues pertaining to the Small Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) environment in South Africa.
Szana said for the past 20 years the self-regulatory environment has failed to yield results. He said while the Bill would not adequately address problems faced by SMMEs, the amendment was a step in the right direction. He cautioned that the country could not have legislation in place, and at the same time allow people do things the way they have been doing.
Labour Deputy Minister, iNkosi Phathekile Holomisa said the current unemployment figures in the country paints a bleak picture. Holomisa said the SMME sector and informal sector were areas of priority to support - as they have capacity to absorb the unemployed.
Holomisa said government has identified a number of sectors such as the chemical sector as high risk to enforce occupational health and safety. He said although SMMEs were faced with challenges such as fixed location and employment of competent OHS personnel, government was keen to support the sector through advocacy sessions.
Department of Labour's Deputy Director-General: Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES), Aggy Moiloa told delegates that adhering to OHS improves productivity. She said the costs of overlooking occupational health and safety prescripts were dire economically and in human casualties. Moiloa said South Africa needed to chart a new way forward and challenge the status quo.
Source: Labour Republic Of South Africa.