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SAFETY FIRST: UPCOMING CHANGES TO THE OHS ACT IN SOUTH AFRICA

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act) is undergoing a significant update in South Africa, aiming to improve safety standards and create a healthier work environment for everyone. Here's a breakdown of the expected changes and what you need to know:


Why the Update?

The Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) aims to modernize the OHS Act, which was enacted in 1993. The revised Act will better reflect current workplace practices and address emerging safety concerns.


Key Expected Changes:

  • Clearer Definitions: The Act will provide clearer explanations of key terms, ensuring a common understanding for employers, employees, and enforcement officers.

  • Enhanced Employer Responsibility: Employers will face stricter accountability for workplace safety. This may include increased fines or penalties for non-compliance.

  • Focus on Risk Management: Businesses will be required to develop and implement a comprehensive risk management plan to proactively identify and address potential hazards.

  • Tailored Risk Assessments: Risk assessments will need to be conducted specifically for each workplace, considering its unique layout, operations, and potential dangers.

  • Formalized Safety Management Systems (SMS): Many businesses will be required to establish a documented SMS that outlines safety protocols and procedures aligned with identified workplace risks.

  • Employee Participation: The revised Act is expected to clarify employee responsibilities in maintaining a safe work environment and reporting potential hazards.

  • OHS Advisory Council: The composition of the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council might be revised to ensure effective representation of relevant stakeholders.


Current Status and What to Do:

Public comments on the proposed amendments have been received, and the DEL is finalizing the review process. The amended OHS Act is expected to be signed into law soon (exact date to be confirmed).


Here's what you can do to prepare:

Stay informed! Regularly check the DEL website (https://www.labour.gov.za/) for updates.

Review your current health and safety practices.

Consider seeking professional guidance to ensure compliance with the upcoming OHS Act requirements.

By working together, employers and employees can create a safer and healthier work environment for everyone.


Disclaimer: This article provides general information and shouldn't be misconstrued as legal advice.


Do you have questions about the OHS Act or need assistance with compliance , please contact us?

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