Health & Safety Communication

The appointment of Health and Safety Representatives.

  • In terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (1993), all workplaces that have more than 20 employees must have a Health and Safety Representative. 
  • Appointed representatives represent the workers regarding safety and health matters to management. 
  • Representatives form part of an important link between management; workers and students.

Functions of Health and Safety Representatives 
A health and safety representative may perform the following functions in respect of the workplace or section of the workplace for which he has been designated, namely:

  • review the effectiveness of health and safety measures;
  • identify potential hazards and potential major incidents at the workplace;
  • in collaboration with his employer, examine the causes of incidents at the workplace;
  • investigate complaints by any employee relating to that employee's health or safety at work;
  • [report] make representations to the employer or a health and safety committee on matters arising from the above-mentioned functions, or where such representations are unsuccessful, to an inspector;
  • make representations to the employer on general matters affecting the health or safety of the employees at the workplace;
  • inspect the workplace, including any article, substance, plant, machinery or health and safety equipment at that workplace with a view to the health and safety of employees, at such intervals as may be agreed upon with the employer: Provided that the health and safety representative shall give reasonable notice of his intention to carry out such an inspection to the employer, who may be present during the inspection;
  • participate in consultations with inspectors at the workplace and accompany inspectors on inspections of the workplace;
  • receive information from inspectors as contemplated in section 36; and
  • in his capacity as a health and safety representative attend meetings of the health and safety committee of which he is a member, in connection with any of the above functions.

Powers and rights of representatives
A health and safety representative shall, in respect of the workplace or section of the workplace for which he has been designated be entitled to:

  • visit the site of an incident at all reasonable times and attend any inspection in loco;
  • attend any investigation or formal inquiry held in terms of this Act;
  • in so far as is reasonably necessary for performing his functions, inspect any document which the employer is required to keep in terms of this Act;
  • accompany an inspector on any inspection;
  • with the approval of the employer (which approval shall not be unreasonably withheld), be accompanied by a technical adviser, on any inspection; and
  • participate in any internal health or safety audit.

Employers obligation towards representatives
It is the employer’s duty to ensure that representatives are properly empowered to perform their duties as health and safety representatives. AISJ shall provide the necessary facilities and assistance as a health and safety representative may reasonably require and as have been agreed upon for the carrying out of his functions.

Liability of representatives
A health and safety representative shall not incur any civil liability by reason of the fact only that he failed to do anything which he may do or is required to do in terms of this Act.

In summary, health and safety representatives will perform the following functions
Monitor and report on health and safety concerns, including:

  • Monthly health & safety inspections
  • Reporting incidents 
  • Keep all records in the departmental/section Safety File.
  • Attend health and safety committee meetings:

Month attend the scheduled Health and Safety Committee meeting.

Health and Safety Committees at AISJ
At AISJ, health and safety concerns are overseen by a Health and Safety Committee.  In terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Health and Safety Committee is responsible for initiating, developing, promoting, maintaining and reviewing measures that ensure the health and safety of employees in the workplace. 

Health and Safety Committee terms of reference
AISJ 's health and safety committee is a statutory body, guided by the Occupational Health and Safety Act. 
In terms of Section 19 (Health and safety committees) and Section 20 (Functions of health and safety committees), the following apply:

Duties of the Committee
A health and safety committee should:

  • Meet every three (3) months or more;
  • Discuss incidents in which someone was killed, injured, or became ill;
  • Make recommendations to the employer regarding health and safety matters;
  • Keep a record of all recommendations for at least 3 years.

Purpose of meetings
The purpose of health and safety committee meetings is for the employer to consult with the committee “…with a view to initiating, developing, promoting, maintaining and reviewing measures to ensure the health and safety of his employees”. 

What this means:

  • Initiating: putting measures in place and starting systems that promote employees’ health and safety.
  • Developing: strengthening and improving these measures to ensure health and safety.
  • Promoting: raising awareness and making sure that all employees follow health and safety measures.
  • Maintaining: keeping up these efforts on an ongoing basis to ensure health and safety.
  • Reviewing: checking and evaluating the success of these health and safety measures.

The committee should consist of health and safety reps (at least 50% of the total), and of employees appointed to represent the employer (not more than 50% of the total).