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The basic health and safety rules you need for your small business

Making sure your business complies with health and safety rules is critical for the wellbeing and safety of your employees. Furthermore, you need to ensure your business and you are safe from any liabilities which might occur should you not have health and safety in place. 

In this article, we will give you the basics of health and safety in South Africa and would advise that you seek professional help to ensure you have implemented the health and safety measures correctly.

According to the Occupational Health & Safety Act of South Africa (OHASA), the employer must ensure the environment their employee operates in is safe and healthy. They should ensure that hazards are highlighted clearly with warning signs, give clear instructions and training about how to handle equipment and materials within the workplace, advise about the procedures to follow in an emergency, and lastly, they mustn’t allow employees to perform unsafe tasks. It is also critical to highlight that health and safety is not the sole responsibility of the employer. The employee should also make sure they take the necessary precautions to protect themselves against injuries and disease. Employees should know that if they highlight an area in the workspace which needs improvement on for health and safety reasons that they may not be fired for this reason.

In the OHASA, it is advised to create a health and safety policy which is visible for all employees to see. This policy should give the employees advice about how to use certain machinery within your business and it should advise employees what to do in case of emergencies or accident. This document must be considered as a living document and changes should be made as and when there are changes within the environment of your business.

Here are some steps on how to lower the risks and hazards in your business:

1. Identify potential hazards and risks

You should walk through your establishment and look at what things could cause potential harm to your employees, customers and other contracted personnel. You should ask your employees what they consider to be risks within your business. You should also read the manufacturer’s manual for the equipment in your business. If you struggle to identify areas of risk in your business, the OHASA has a list of specific areas within businesses which need to be examined. You can find them here.

2. Assess the risk and what steps you need to take to deal with it

It’s important to have actions in place which help to deal with the risks which may occur within your business. If you deal with heavy equipment you may require that your employees wearing safety gear to protect themselves from being damaged by the equipment.

3. Make a record of your findings

And when you will implement the course of action to minimise the risk. This step will help you have a plan to decrease the risk in your business.

4. Review the plan and adapt it

As we know our world is always changing and it is advised to review your risks and hazards every quarter to ensure you are minimising the risks which are present in your workspace.

It may be important to highlight that even if you have an office where people sit behind computers all day, there is an ergonomic risk involved and this needs to be assessed.

We hope that this will help you to create a safer work environment for you and your employees.

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