Occupational Health and Safety

What is the OHS Act?

Occupational Health and Safety is the discipline concerned with the preservation and protection of human life, facilities, resources in and around the workplace.

Managers provide a crucial link between an employee and health and safety practice in the workplace (safety-first corporate culture)
While some see health and safety as a hindrance to efficiency, a good manager will recognise that it is not just a central aspect of keeping employees safe but it includes the protection of:

Persons that are not employees, such as clients, visitors and contractors;
People outside our premises impacted by our business and activities (example: our grease traps may impact the health/safety of the community / environment).



The Occupational Health and Safety Act No 85 of 1993 as amended by the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act No 181 of 1993 states that an employer must take all reasonable steps necessary under the circumstances to ensure that employees in the workplace receive prompt first aid treatment in the event of injury or a medical emergency.


To download your complete copy of the Occupational Health and Safety Act No 85 of 1993, click here

Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 (Act No. 85 of 1993)
16. Chief Executive Officer charged with certain duties
(1) Every chief executive officer shall as far as is reasonably practicable ensure that the duties of his employer as contemplated in this Act, are properly discharged.
(2) Without derogating from his responsibility or liability in terms of subsection (1), a chief executive officer may assign any duty contemplated in the said subsection, to any person under his control, which person shall act subject to the control and directions of the chief executive officer.
(3) The provisions of subsection (1) shall not, subject to the provisions of section 37, relieve an employer of any responsibility or liability under this Act.
(4) For the purpose of subsection (1) , the head of department of any department of State shall be deemed to be the chief executive officer of that department.”



The Act also states that:


“when more than 5 employees are employed at a workplace, the employer must provide a suitable first aid box which is accessible in the workplace for the treatment of the injured, more than 10 employees are employed at a workplace, the employer must ensure that for every group of up to 50 employees at that particular workplace there is at least one person readily available during normal working hours who is in possession of a valid first aid certificate issued by an organisation approved by the chief inspector (DOL).”



What are the consequences of Non-compliance?

■Injury and disease;
■Loss of productivity
■Criminal records & civil claims;
■Corporate and personal fines and/or jail:
Person: R50 000 and/or 1-year imprisonment;
Employer: R100 000 and/or 2-years’ imprisonment.


37(3)Whenever any employee or mandatary of any employer or user does or omits to do an act which it would be an offence in terms of this Act for the employer or any such user to do or omit to do, he shall be liable to be convicted and sentenced in respect thereof as if he were the employer or user.


OHS Act is a criminal Act

Criminal liability: State can prosecute a person or the organisation for a crime under the OHS Act.

Civil liability: A person (client/visitor/contractor) can make a claim against a person or the organisation.


Taking all necessary measures to ensure that the requirements of this Act are complied with by every person in his employment or on the premises under his control where plant or machinery is used


Employees also have OHS Duties
Section 14 (OHS Act)

All employees have the responsibility to ensure that the workplace (in which they operate) is free from hazards and Risks:


Take reasonable care of their own health and safety and those of others who may be affected by their acts;
Carry out lawful orders;
Must report unhealthy or unsafe conditions and incidents immediately.