National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998)
Environmental Management Plan : Department of Labour
Chapter 4 : Environmental Management Policies
4.1. Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act 85 of 1993)
This chapter describes how environmental management issues are considered in the existing DOL policies.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act 85 of 1993) (OHSA) is the main piece of legislation of the DOL that can be related to the environmental sector.
This legislation is directly under the control of the Chief Directorate of Occupational Health and Safety.
The OHSA, however, does not apply to mines or mining area (as defined by the Minerals Act, Act 50 of 1991), nor to any load line ship, fishing boat, sailing boat or whaling boat (as defined by the Merchant Shipping Act, Act 57 of 1951).
The main purpose of this Act is to provide for the health and safety of persons at work and for the health and safety of persons in connection with the use of plant and machinery. In addition, the protection of persons other than those at work, against hazards to health and safety arising out of or in connection with the activities of persons at work is also the responsibility of the DOL. Provision is made in the Act with regard to the establishment of a Tripartite Advisory Council for Occupational Health and Safety; whose main function is to advise the Minister with regard to matters of policy arising out of, or in connection with, the application of the provisions of this Act.
According to the OHSA, it is the right of workers to be informed. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that the worker is informed and that the worker clearly understands the health and safety hazards of any work being done.
The OHSA also makes provision for the duties of the manufacturer, designers, importers, sellers or suppliers regarding the use of articles and substances at work. With regard to the installation of structures, the manufacturer, designers, importers, sellers or suppliers must ensure that their articles are safe and without risk. The installation of such a structure must be undertaken in a manner that does not create an unsafe situation. With regard to the use of substances within the work environment, the manufacturer, designers, importers, sellers or suppliers must ensure that such substances are safe and without risk to health when it is properly used. Information must be provided on the health and safety risks associated with the substance, conditions that are necessary to ensure that the substance will be safe and without risk to health when properly used and procedures in case of an accident.
It is also the right of the worker to have access to-
|•||OHSA and regulations;|
|•||health and safety rules and procedures of the workplace; and|
|•||health and safety standards which the employer must keep at the workplace.|
The following are some of the regulations administered by the Department under the OHSA, that are pertinent to ensuring that health and safety standards are implemented in workplaces. These regulations have been selected for discussion because of their environmental implications:—
|•||Environmental regulations for workplaces (DOL, 2003);|
|•||Asbestos regulations (DOL, 1987);|
|•||Lead regulations (DOL, 1991);|
|•||Major hazard installation regulations (DOL, 1998);|
|•||Hazardous chemical substances regulations (DOL 1995);|
|•||Regulations for Hazardous Biological Agents (DOL, 2001);|
|•||Construction regulations (DOL 2000); and|
|•||Electrical Installation Regulations.|