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Safety is Everyone's Concern

SAIOSH conference's key message all about safety at work

Saiosh hosted health and safety professionals from across the globe at its seventh Saiosh Conference this May. The conference was held at the Gallagher Convention Centre alongside the A-OSH exhibition. Topics of discussion ranged from the cost-saving benefits of implementing safety, the importance of risk assessments, new legislation that is being introduced and the legal implications of health and safety.

While the topics were varied, the key focus of the conference was to highlight the importance of safety. This theme was introduced in the first keynote address by Aggie Moiloa, inspector general at the Department of Labour (DoL). Her address looked specifically at the revisions being made to the current Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act.

Moiloai said the DoL was motivated to revise the Act as some of the policies were not applicable to South Africa, and to address the gap in regulations regarding technological innovations, such as robotics. Revisions to the Act are set to be presented to cabinet soon.

Saiosh CEO Neels Nortjé with Inspector General Department of Labour Aggie Moiloa at the 2017 Saiosh International Conference

Moiloai noted that there is still time for amendments and input and she urged the industry to participate in the amendment of the bill, but also to ensure companies comply with health and safety regulations.

“Safety is everyone’s business,” Moiloai said. She noted that there is a lack of staff in the department with only 150 health and safety inspectors, which results in a lack of visibility.

A few delegates commented that some inspectors behave unprofessionally when conducting an inspection. While there are guidelines for the behaviour of inspectors, Moiloai admitted that not all inspectors comply with them. She urged the industry to report any unprofessional conduct by inspectors.

Robin Jones, president of Saiosh (at the time of the conference) and chairperson of the conference, added his voice in support of the department. “The DoL is not the enemy. It is providing the framework from which we establish our safety structures in a company,” said Jones.He did, however, urge the DoL to impose heavy fines to enforce compliance with health and safety laws. He added that, with the lack of available inspectors, it is important for organisations to self-regulate safety, which can save costs.

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The South African Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Saiosh) was established on the historic day when South Africa celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela from prison on 11 February 2010 by a group of enthusiastic Occupational Health and Safety Professionals from South Africa. Saiosh is recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) as a professional body to register Occupational Health and Safety Professionals in South Africa in terms of the NQF Act, Act 67 of 2008.