Health and Safety

No Rules Before Providing Resources

Juliet Kekana 2.jpg

A continuous tug of war between employers and their employees remains the order of the day while Safety Professionals are forever on a quest for greener pastures. When is this going to end? Having been to several workplaces in my time, most Safety Officers will honestly tell you that they find it hard to enforce safety rules as employees are not eager to follow them. Interview a few members of the workforce and they will tell you a different side to the story when it comes to compliance and following safety rules. Below, I have highlighted responsibilities of employees as follows:

Responsibilities of employees

As stated in the to the Occupational Health and Safety Act- Section 14

  • Take reasonable care of the health and safety of himself and other persons
  • Co-operate with such employer.
  • Carry out any lawful order given to him
  • Obey the health and safety rules.

I have identified the following obligations imposed on the employer by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Section 8). Summarised as follows:

Duties of employers

  • Providing information, instruction, training and supervision regarding safety and health to employees.
  • Providing and maintaining welfare facilities for employees at the workplace.
  • Designing, providing and maintaining a safe place of work that has safe access and uses plant and equipment that is safe and without risk to health.

Safety rules should be part of a safety management in order to promote a good culture and enforce compliance. Before embarking or establishing what safety should be formulated, employers should consider all risks for that workplace and what resources are required to make safety implementation work. Setting of safety rules, coupled with training and Safe Working Procedures, should be the second last leg in the Hierarchy of controls just before resorting to PPE controls.

Sometimes non-compliance doesn’t just happen due to lack of employee’s willingness to participate, but as a result of employees not convinced enough that the employers buy into the idea in the first place. Once that is done, the battle is half won.

Here are a few examples that we have listed below:

Common Safety rules found in workplaces

  • No open fires in the workplace.
  • From the employer’s point of view, the idea behind this rule was to ensure that employees do not embark on open fires to warm themselves as this could be a fire danger to other employees.
  • Do not litter – It makes no sense to expect employees to comply with the rule if the employer doesn’t bother providing applicable waste bins.
  • Do not mix waste - Does the workplace have enough waste bins.
  • “Noise Zone” Wear earplugs beyond this point
  • “No eating” areas – Has the employer complied with the requirement for employees to have dedicated eating areas or are they required to eat under a tree?

Both employers and employees have a role to play in ensuring that a workplace is kept safe enough for all parties concerned. This simply means that the culture of departments working in silos but hoping to achieve a common goal is a far-fetched idea and a dream that is impossible to achieve. Synergy will not happen unless each party fully understand what their roles are in the workplace, as far as safety rules are concerned.

Written by Juliet Kekana – Managing Director – De-novo HSE Training and Consulting

For more information on health and safety services, visit our website

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