If you are new to Health and Safety and especially if you work in a construction work environment you may wonder what role then the Health and Safety officer plays.
It’s common knowledge that accidents can maim and kill workers on site. The statistics speak for themselves. According to a statement released by the Goverment ” the construction sector contributed 12% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the previous financial year, the sector had at least 1.5 to 2.5 fatalities per week…He revealed that in the previous financial year, there was an average of 12 500 construction sites in the country, and the sector employed at least 1.4 million people as of June 2016.”
Studies have shown that the top cause of workplace accidents is employee errors, followed by equipment insufficiencies, then bad practice. Research has shown that employing a health and safety officer within the workplace can cut down accidents by 50 percent. That is huge!
The Importance of a Health and Safety Officer
All employers are bound by the Occupation Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993. Which requires general health and safety duties for employers and employees.
When a competent Health and Safety Officer has been appointed, management of the company has peace of mind that safety requirements are met and allows them to focus on productivity and profits.
The Role of a Health and Safety Officer
The purpose of the H&S Officer is to prevent accidents, injuries, and work-related illnesses in the workplace. Their role is to create and implement health and safety policies that comply with the latest legislation and ensure management implements them.
Health and safety officers create site-specific safety documents and ensure it’s regularly updated to reflect any changes to the law. It’s their responsibility to ensure that each member of staff is aware of and adheres to this policy.
Their most important job is to do regular inspections and risk assessments. They ensure that any hazards or defects are fixed immediately. When an accident or incident occurs they will be responsible for the investigation and will keep records thereof. They will also recommend safety improvement if required.
The health and safety officer will also be responsible for training staff in all safety issues including personal protective clothing and equipment. They are also the contact point for any questions relating to safety in the workplace.
Management works closely with the health and safety officer to ensure that the safety system is implemented and maintained.
If an employee suffers a work related injury-illness and the proper safe work procedures, safety plans and systems are not in place the consequences for the employer are serious. The company can be found negligent, resulting in compensation claims, fines and damage to it’s reputation.
Having a health and safety officer within your company organisation you create safety awareness and a safety culture within. This all leads to a safer work environment and happier employees. In addition, you ensure that you are not liable for negligence.
Having good health and safety in place can save lives and is an important element of every business. This makes the role of the health and safety officer one of the most important within the workplace.