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The Question is: Do we as the company benefit from safety training and appointments in the field or is this a time- consuming, paper exercise?

The answer to this question is simple, and it is yes. These appointments and safety training interventions hold with them the potential to be very beneficial to the company. However, if these appointments are not planned and done according to procedure nor are the safety training interventions clearly defined, the benefit slowly fades away. In other words, if we hap- hazardly appoint individuals to a certain position without defining the training needs and knowledge base of such an appointment the training will not hit the objective squarely and the poor Safety Rep facing additional duties in terms of Occupational Health and Safety inevitably won’t perform to standard or be of value. However, at least we will still be legally compliant. This is the main challenge with this dualistic relationship in Occupational Health and Safety.

Common safety appointments such as Health and Safety Representatives (Sect. 17(1)), First Aiders (GSR 3), Fire Fighters (ERW 9) are too often done as a compliance exercise and just to successfully pass an audit, which in return can easily lead to poor performance of and low- levels of interest in Occupational Health and Safety from employees in the workplace with little employee investment.

However, the opposite side to this scenario is when these same appointments are done with a sincere interest to promote Occupational Health and Safety in the workplace and ask cooperation and input from employees and where these appointments are trusted, supported and developed (through training interventions) within their roles the value of this dualistic relationship starts to show with an increase in safety awareness, cooperation in the workplace and ultimately a better safety record and safer workplace. In accordance with Section 8(2)(j) of the Act, this would then also assist these employees in recognizing and accepting the scope of their authority whilst making them aware of their respective duties and responsibilities per each respective designation/ appointment.

In conjunction with our safety appointments, the value of development and training in Health and Safety to enable these individuals to perform their additional duties are very easily underestimated. When we invest time and attention in quality Occupational Health and Safety training from passionate individuals within the industry, we increase the knowledge base of our Safety Representatives, Fire Fighters, First Aiders and enable them to perform their duties with the necessary know-how in a more clearly defined role. Again, the same conundrum exists, compliance exercise or real-time value? Let us look at this using an example: We appoint a Health and Safety Representative in the workplace in terms of Section 17(1) of the Act, responsible for additional Health and Safety duties and recognizing employee complaints and OHS concerns, however the individual never receives focused, goal- oriented training interventions such as Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment, Incident Investigation, Health and Safety Representative, etc. how can we expect of this employee to be motivated to and informed of the new challenge he accepted to pursue?

Closing Remarks

In summary, the value of quality Health and Safety training done by passionate individuals and activists for safety and health in the workplace cannot be ignored, overlooked or mistaken. The ever- present dualistic benefit can be seen in the fact that compliance requirements for training in terms of Section 8 and Section 13 of the Act has been met including the delegates who are selected and exposed to such training interventions will walk away from them a lot more knowledgeable, -motivated and hopefully -passionate about Occupational Health and Safety in their workplace and the background to attempt their new appointments. Effective interventions performed for the sake of employee development and increasing the knowledge base of those in Health and Safety positions will have several invaluable benefits and/ or results. These include and are not limited to:

  • Increased Health and Safety awareness among workers and in the workplace
  • Higher employee satisfaction in their respective positions/ designations
  • Reflection of management commitment towards employee safety
  • More skilled and experience appointments i.t.o Occupational Health and Safety

For more on this topic or to enquire about Health and Safety training interventions by passionate individuals with years of industry- focused experience in their respective fields, contact Viann Eben Nel on viann.nel@inlexso.co.za.

Viann Eben Nel

Background:

Viann has been in the Health & Safety industry for almost 8 years, an interest of his which started early in his career at a fairly young age and it was during this time that he gained valuable experience in Facilitation and Training in various fields of Occupational Health & Safety and it was with these interventions that he realized the impact of Occupational Health and Safety in our daily lives and the vital role training and development plays in the bigger OHS context. The Occupational Health and Safety Act, Act 85 of 1993, thereafter referred to as the Act, explicitly mentions and places an obligation on employers in terms of Section 8(2)(e) to provide employees with the necessary information, instruction, training and supervision they would need to perform their functions safely and free from harm. Together with this, we see numerous references in the Act to appointments to be made in Occupational Health and Safety to ensure compliance such as Safety Reps, Fire Fighters, Incident Investigators, First Aiders, et cetera. These appointments and Section 8(2)(e) as mentioned earlier, are all aimed at providing and maintaining a safe workplace in terms of compliance to the Act, but do they really achieve the goal and meet the aim?

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