There is insufficient health and safety due diligence and adherence to training, especially among small engineering companies in South Africa, states health and safety training provider ATA International business development manager Nicole de Montille.
She points out that larger engineering companies tend to have better compliance in comparison with their smaller counterparts in terms of implementing health and safety training. It is unfortunate, but in tight economic times, smaller companies often find it difficult to fund such training from their already strained budgets, she says.
“This is a reality and it needs to be addressed. Health and safety awareness in the workplace is one of the first steps that can be taken. Ongoing workplace awareness education is valuable, especially as the human factor contributes to many workplace incidents, regardless of industry,” she notes.
Further, short education sessions that inform employees of changes or new developments in safety within the company go a long way towards improving health and safety generally within the workplace, adds De Montille.
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the MD or CEO of a company is ultimately responsible for the health and safety within a company, regardless of whether or not they have properly delegated the responsibility to somebody else in terms of the Act.
Companies are obliged to ensure they have on-site first aiders and a fully stocked first-aid kit, as well as conduct up-to-date, ongoing health and safety inspections to mitigate any risk.
De Montille says businesses are obliged to provide health and safety gear and appoint health and safety representatives. Failing to do so could result in the companies’ owners being fined or possibly receiving a jail sentence in the event of an accident attributed to the company’s or owners’ negligence.
She highlights that a healthy and safe workforce leads to reduced downtime and consequently better productivity.
“The long-term or permanent loss of an employee, who has fulfilled a role for more than a year, has a significant knock-on effect. Keeping the staff healthy and safe means there will be no need to train someone else to fill a position and the types of injuries to staff will be reduced or, even better, injuries will be eliminated,” she notes.
De Montille says a lack of knowledge about health and safety legislation is a contributing factor to the lack of health and safety training in South African industries.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Environmental Regulations for Workplaces and the Workmen’s Compensation Act clearly delineate the minimum health and safety requirements for companies.
Further, companies are oblig- ated to register with the Work-men’s Compensation Fund.
Health and Safety Courses
ATA International has various health and safety training courses aimed at assisting various indus- tries in complying with health and safety legislation for the workplace.
The courses include a health and safety representative course, a supervisor’s health and safety training course, a health and safety officer programme, occupational hygiene training, wellness programmes, rescue and fire training, as well as medical training.
ATA contracts specialists in the relevant fields to run these programmmes, which are all accredited by recognised bodies. All students receive certificates on successful completion of the training.
Training is provided at the client’s premises and at allocated venues.
ATA International has also offered training to companies in Namibia, Mali, Burkina Faso and Mozambique.