Disciplinary Hearing: Contravention of the OH&S Act

We were requested to chair a disciplinary inquiry regarding an employee who consistently contravened not only the company’s rules but the Regulations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

At a glance it seems straight forward, but unfortunately not always.

The employee was given a verbal warning, followed by two written warnings. After each warning, the company also had a counseling session with the employee. During the counseling session the employee was told the importance of not only wearing the PPE but also wearing it correctly. Everything was well documented.

The employee again did not wear the required PPE when he was working. He was given a final warning with a disciplinary inquiry. Wilbrink & Associates were requested to chair the inquiry.

The warnings were properly documented, so were the counseling sessions. Fortunately during the counseling sessions the employee was demonstrated how to wear his PPE as well as the importance of wearing it and the potential consequences if not wearing it correctly.

In this case it was a straight forward matter with the relevant proof that the employee knew better. What the employer did forget to do (although covered in the counseling sessions) was to conduct formal training. If the counseling sessions were not in place, the employee could have easily said “I did not know” and the case would have gone in the employee’s favour.

What is of utmost importance is that we have all the required training in place, documented and signed in order that there is no chance to say the well known phrase “I did not know”.

We would like to refer you to some articles written by myself which are on our website www.wilbrink.co.za that deal in more depth with the training requirements, e.g. PPE, Managing Risks in Hazardous Areas