South Africa - Occupational Health and Safety Act

    South Africa

    South Africa - Occupational Health and Safety Act

    The Occupational Health and Safety Act No. 85 of 1993, as Amended by Occupational Health and safety Act No. 181 of 1993 (‘the Act’) aims to provide for the health and safety of persons at work, for the health and safety of persons in connection with the use of plant and machinery and for the protection of persons other than persons at work against hazards to health and safety arising from the activities of persons at work. 

    Last Updated: July 22, 2019


  • Requirements

    The employer shall provide and maintain, as far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of his employees (Section 8(1) of the Act). In particular, the employer must, among other things (Section 8(2) of the Act): 

    • provide and maintain systems of work, plant and machinery that are safe and without risks to health; 
    • eliminate or mitigate any hazard or potential hazard to the safety or health of employees; 
    • ensure the safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the production, processing, use, handling, storage or transport of articles or substances;  
    • establish what hazards to the health or safety of persons are attached to any work which is performed, any article or substance which is produced, processed, used, handled, stored or transported and any plant or machinery which is used in his business; 
    • establish what precautionary measures should be taken with respect to such work, article, substance, plant or machinery in order to protect the health and safety of persons, providing the necessary means to apply such precautionary measures; 
    • provide such information, instructions, training and supervision to ensure the health and safety at work of his employees; 
    • deny any employee to do any work or to produce, process, use, handle, store or transport any article or substance or to operate any plant or machinery if the necessary precautionary measures have not been adopted; 
    • ensure that tire requirements of the Act are complied with by every person in his employment or on premises under his control where plant or machinery is used; and 
    • ensure that work is carried out and that plant or machinery is used under the general supervision of a person trained to understand the hazards associated with it.

    In addition, the employer shall conduct his business in such a manner as to ensure that persons other than those in his employment who may be directly affected by his activities are not thereby exposed to hazards to their health or safety (Section 9(1) of the Act). 

    Any person who designs, manufactures, imports, sells, supplieserects or installs any article for use at work shall ensure that the article is safe and without risks to health when properly used and that it complies with all prescribed requirements (Section 10(1) and (2) of the Act)Who is manufacturing, importing, selling or supplying any substance for use at work, in addition to the obligations mentioned above, shall make information available with regard to the use of the substance at work, the risks to health and safety associated with such substance, the conditions necessary to ensure that the substance will be safe and without risks to health when properly used and the procedures to be followed in the case of an accident involving such substance (Section 10(3) of the Act). 

    Where a person designs, manufactures, imports, sells or supplies an article or substance for or to another subject, who is undertaking in writing to take specified steps sufficient to ensure that the article or substance will comply with all prescribed requirements and will be safe and without risks to health when properly used, the undertaking shall have the effect of relieving the first mentioned person from the duty imposed upon him by the Act (Section 10(4) of the Act). 

    Any employer who has more than 20 employees at any workplace shall designate in writing health and safety representatives for such workplace (Section 17(1) of the Act). 

    Any employer shall, where two or more health and safety representatives have been designated in a designed workplace, establish one or more health and safety committees and consult with the same with a view to initiating, developing, promoting, maintaining and reviewing measures to ensure the health and safety of his employees at work (Section 19(1) of the Act).  

    Each incident occurring at work or arising out of or in connection with the activities of persons at work, or in connection with the use of plant or machinery shall be reported to an inspector by the employer or the user of the plant or machinery concerned, as the case may be (Section 24(1) of the Act). 

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