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All households have basic rules implemented to keep the family and home safe from harm and damage. It follows that you should implement the same in your office, factory or workplace. It’s often the last thing employers consider doing and often those that do implement it, only do it because they are forced to.

The Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHS) applies to all business regardless of size. This includes self-employed people.

Don’t look at this process as another pain in the #$%*, legislated just to keep you busy. Use it as an opportunity to ensure your staff, your property and assets are safe from harm and damage. It is a strategic planning process that will save your business money. An injured staff member or damaged machinery or equipment will cost you time and money. Assessing any risk to your staff or equipment will enable you to prevent this cost in the future.

By assessing any hazards to the health or safety of your staff during their normal duties helps you establish precautionary measures to protect them. Loose hanging electrical wires in a workshop or a slippery tile at your office front door. These are day to day issues that if picked up early, stop harm and damage. There are endless stories where an injured staff member has to live with some form of physical harm. The company has to deal with lost time and in some cases a skilled employee, simply because a possible hazard was not identified. Often, simple things like PPE (personal protection equipment) can mean the difference between a profitable job or a lost eye and medical claims due to a lack of OHS. Having correctly trained first aiders and kits is also vital in the business. Claims through OHS compensation amounts to almost three billion rand of our tax money each year.

Under the OHS act there are sets of regulations covering various “risk environments” and they intern set processes that need to be followed to be safe and compliant. The depth and size of your OHS policy and risk assessments is dependent on the type and size of your business. There is plenty of free advice on the web but as with all things legal, if you are not doing it correctly, ignorance is not a defense. It’s best to get someone who specialises in this area as they know all the pitfalls and can get you compliant fast. Also ensure you use a reputable company to assist you. As with employment, check references of other businesses they have done work for.

It makes little sense why any business owner wouldn’t want to invest some time and money in keeping their staff and business protected. Don’t do it just because the law says you must; do because it’s the right thing to do, legally, economically and for the wellbeing of your staff.

If you need help with this, MyHRM suggests Vital Life Training for businesses in KwaZulu-Natal. They are an established company and accredited to train your staff accordingly. From risk assessment to first aid, Vital Life Training should be your starting point and can get you on track. For businesses in other provinces please contact us for advice on your closest consulting firm.

Vital Life Training can be contacted on 033 – 386 4451 or the online www.vitallifetraining.co.za