In terms of the General Safety Regulations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, regulation no. 2(1), “every employer (Manager) shall conduct an evaluation of the risks attached to any condition or situation which may arise from the activities of such employer or user and to which persons at a workplace or in the cause of their employment are exposed to…”
Such a risk assessment should point out any dangers that the employees are exposed to. One would start with a position and work one’s way through the organization, i.e. from sweeper through to manager. Every position would be analyzed and every step that may pose a risk must be noted. The next step is to evaluate the risk and determine how the risk can be mitigated; this may mean e.g. PPE in the short term and to engineer it out in the long term.
There are consultants who can do these risk assessments for companies, but as can be imagined, it would be a costly exercise as it takes a considerable amount of time. To do one position could take days, dependant on the complexity of the position.
In some cases outside evaluation may be required. An example would be a noise survey to determine the severity of the risk (noise). The results will also indicate whether certain follow-up work is required, e.g. audiometric testing and if so, how often.
The risk assessment should be re-evaluated on a regular basis as positions and equipment do change.
Once all the risks per position have been determined, Management must decide how to mitigate it. In most cases the short term solution would be PPE. It is Managements responsibility to determine the PPE required, while the employee should have an input in the type (e.g. hearing plugs vrs. Hearing muffs).
All PPE must be issued free of charge and replaced when broken. (See our talk on PPE)
Written by Frans Wilbrink of Wilbrink & Associates, tel. 031 – 266 9035