Many find it hard to equate profitability with spending money on efforts to achieve compliance with Occupational Health and Safety Standards (OHSS). Yet, in reality the negative repercussions of failing to adhere to such standards have a direct impact on profitability and the company’s bottom line. It’s time to accept the fact that sustainability is directly linked to compliance, which means it’s time to make operational compliance a priority.
This is especially important in major industries that employ large portions of our workforce as key industry producers. The ramifications of decisions made in respect of H&S compliance in the mining sector for instance has profound ripple effects: On millions of employees, multiplied by a factor of their generally large household sizes (dependencies); the national economy; political and governmental frameworks; social development; and thousands of interrelated secondary businesses and services.
According to OCSA, the leader in workplace health and wellness in Southern Africa, it is evident that industries in SA continue to overlook mandatory requirements attributed to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. A trend that is alarming, given the risk to national assets and the working population.
By shifting the focus to PPE compliance, this can become a key factor in obtaining optimal OHSS in any organisation. HSE Solutions (a member of the Sturrock and Robson Group) as a preferred supplier of comfort-engineered PPE in South Africa, services organisations in divergent economic sectors, enabling them to operate safely, seamlessly and productively by equipping their workforces with products from respected global brand, Honeywell.
The need for optimal occupational health and safety standards
There are 4 key considerations that argue for the significance of effective occupational H&S policies, training programmes and PPE investments from reputable health and safety equipment suppliers:
- The Legislative challenge
Despite extensive, well-crafted statutes that set guidelines for ensuring occupational health and safety, Dr Terry Berelowitz, Medical Director for OCSA, argues that legislation is often ignored. He remarks that this alarming trend is ironically compromising the very people who are the backbone of the country’s economy – those involved in the high-risk areas of agriculture, transport, factories, construction and mines, to name a few.
- Recognising H&S compliance as an Investment
Progressive industries and organisations have already come to the realisation that the facilitation of access to occupational health and safety services for workers, is more than begrudging compliance with legal requirements. By investing in high-quality, job-specific PPE an organisation enables a healthier workforce that is more motivated and productive, which is a worthwhile return.
- Non-compliance – a costly affair for employers
Court rulings, from as early as 2011 for example, have proven that despite cover as per the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act, workers are not prevented from lodging further damages claims where employers can be shown to have been negligent.
The case of former miner Thembekile Mankayi in March of 2011 is one such instance, where the Constitutional Court upheld his claim for further compensation of R2.7million in damages as a result of contracting a respiratory illness while working. While he had passed away by the time judgment was handed down, this case highlights the importance of respiratory protection equipment as well as the necessity of actively ensuring that all health and safety precautions have been followed.
- Disturbing stats
According to OCSA the construction industry highlights a need for more stringent H&S procedures, starting with an accurate assessment of PPE needs for maintaining optimum safety standards. Worrying stats indicate that on average 2 construction worker fatalities occur per week and anecdotal evidence links 80% of incidences to poor worker safety practices, which includes unsafe or improper use of PPE.
These considerations hinge on the importance of carrying out an effective needs analyses when it comes to H&S requirements, but this is not where it ends. It’s just as important to put in place proper mechanisms for ongoing maintenance of health and safety measures. This requires the provision of comprehensive, risk-specific PPE that caters to workers exposed to various occupational hazards, as well as the different work-related risks they are confronted with.
When it comes to aligning with H&S industry best practices, the best advice is to keep it simple to avoid the painful consequences of non-compliance. This means it’s necessary to:
- Administer risk-based medical examinations to monitor and manage staff health
- Educate employees on hazards and risks influencing their work environment
- Provide sufficient protection to all employees, enabling them to function optimally, while being fully protected.
Sourcing the ideal personal protective equipment supplier | Contact HSE
HSE Solutions is strategically placed to service the Southern African market. The dedicated HSE team services organisations in industries all over Southern Africa, through the provision of high quality, ergonomically-designed and scientifically engineered personal protective equipment, and essentially a head-to-toe offering to address the broad market needs. Contact HSE Solutions for further enquiries or to order.