Cullinan & Associates: Experts in Occupational Health and Safety18 November 2016
The past year has seen several fatal accidents in the media with huge health and safety implications for parties involved. From the collapse of the bridge on the M1 Highway in Johannesburg, to the restaurant roof collapse in Pretoria and many accidents involving unsuitable vehicles and machinery, South Africa has alarming occupational incident and accident statistics.
The construction industry has particularly worrying accident statistics. The Construction Regulations, 2014 were drafted to reduce the risks inherent to workers and other parties in the construction industry. Significant obligations are placed on contractors, designers, supervisors and managers of construction work in these Regulations. Penalties for noncompliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 (OHSA) and its regulations provide three instances where certain actions or failure to take action will constitute an offence. These are:
- instances where OHSA prescribes a legal duty or function to a specific person and the person fails to comply with the legal duty;
- instances where a person prevents another person, tasked to perform a legal duty, from performing that duty, for example by not co-operating with an inspector or not making it possible for an inspector to exercise his or her functions
- ancillary actions which may constitute offences concerned with the protection of workers and prevention of occupational injuries and diseases, for example the misuse and tampering of or with safety equipment.
OHSA also provides for official inquiries into health and safety incidents such as the one presently conducted by the Department of Labour into the M1 Bridge collapse. The inquiry will seek to settle who was at fault for the fatal collapse- construction company Murray & Roberts allege that the fault for the bridge collapse lies with its subcontractor and scaffolding supplier while the supplier alleges that the construction staff failed to properly tighten couplers which were used to connect and support the structure.
The OHSA imposes fines of up to R100 000 and prison sentences of up to a year for contravention if its provisions.
Cullinan & Associates has significant experience in South African Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) law as well as various international management standards such as ISO 14001 (Environment) and ISO 18001 (Occupational Health and Safety).
We believe that protecting the health and safety of working people is extremely important. However complying with the huge volume of complex OHS legislation which regulates millions of activities, facilities, machinery, equipment, substances and products in every workplace in the economy, is challenging. We aim to empower our clients by providing them with accessible legal information and advice on how to comply with OHS law.
Our lawyers have authored the comprehensive LexisNexis Occupational Health and Safety Practical Guidance (http://practicalguidance.lexisnexis.co.za/) and the content for the cutting edge SpotOn OHS and environmental law compliance management system (see https://spoton-compliance.com ).
The LexisNexis Occupational Health and Safety Practical Guidance is a definitive and accessible database for anyone seeking to understand the OHS Act and its regulations and how they are applied across the South African business landscape.
Our firm is extremely well-placed to assist businesses in understanding and complying with the many legal requirements related to health and safety in the workplace. Our experience lies in a complete and up-to-date knowledge of the legislation and how it applies to industries as well as employers, employees and the self-employed.
Our health and safety expertise has led us to create SpotOn, an innovative, online compliance management system for both environmental and health and safety law. SpotOn is an incredibly easy-to-use system that enables organisations to easily identify what they must do to maintain full compliance with all applicable health, safety and environmental (HSE) laws and to manage the tasks necessary to achieve and maintain full compliance. The content is written by our specialist lawyers and experts who are available to support SpotOn users.
SpotOn has been developed to make compliance simple and understandable for all users – it is tailored for every client and organised around business activities so that any user can quickly and easily access the information they need, without any prior legal knowledge or experience. The content includes continuously updated legal texts and plain language explanations of what must be done to comply with legal and other requirements when undertaking each business activity.
Additionally, SpotOn can generate up-to-date ISO 14001/ OHSAS 18001 compliant legal registers and HSE registers at any time, meaning that both internal and external audits can be completed quickly and cheaply. SpotOn subscribers also have “on-call” access to our legal team should they need further assistance.
Clients including Wasteman, Sun International and Heinz, are saving money through our annual subscription model, which costs a fraction of the price of keeping abreast of legislative and accessing compliance advice.
Understanding health and safety law is key for any employer, as failure to comply can not only lead to compromising the health and safety of your employees but significant fines and imprisonment for employers.
If you are an employer, employee or self-employed, or if you manufacture and supply substances, articles and equipment used in the workplace or are a client in the construction sector, HSE legislation imposes a wide range of legal obligations on you.
Our team are available for consultations to assist you further with advice and comprehensive business solutions such as SpotOn.