The field of Occupational Health and Safety legislation is very dynamic at this point in time. The Department of Labour is currently busy with the revision of a number of the existing regulations as well as preparing new regulations for specific aspects.

At a presentation done by the Chief Inspector at the A-OHSExpo on the 1st of June 2017, he indicated that the new OHS Bill is almost at the point where it can be circulated for comment and although a similar message was circulated earlier, it should happen sooner rather than later. Most of the regulations will also be revised, some of which are already in an advanced stage in the revision process. The new Ergonomics Regulations has been published for comments and the inputs will soon be workshopped and included in the final version to be published. Other Regulations up for review include the Asbestos Regulations, the General Safety and General Administrative Regulations, amongst others. More details will be released as and when the various processes reach a stage where more concrete information is available.

One document that has been awaited for quite a while is the Guidelines for the Construction Regulations, 2014. This was published in Government Gazette No. 40883, dated 2 June 2017. This can be accessed on the DoL website at www.labour.gov.za or from the Government Printers website at http://www.gpwonline.co.za/Gazettes/Pages/Published-National-Government-Gazettes.aspx.

This document is significant as it represents the position the DoL will be taking in the implementation of these Regulations. Although the whole document cannot be discussed on this forum, a few notable remarks need to be made.

  1. The first deals with the definition of an ‘Agent‘. Here the notes indicate that it is seen as a person or an organisation which would appoint a competent and registered person.
  2. The definition for ‘Construction work‘, should be limited to building works and civil engineering works and must be read with the definition of structure, which would narrow the application of the Regulations substantially.
  3. The notes clarify that for the purposes of this regulation an occupational health practitioner refers to either Doctors or Nurses with the following requirements:

Doctors:

  • Registered and in good standing with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and,
  • has as a tertiary qualification in occupational health or medicine which is registered as an additional qualification with the HPCSA or,
  • be registered as a specialist in Occupational Medicine with the HPCSA.

Nurses:

  • Registered and in good standing with the South African Nursing Council (SANC) and,
  • have a tertiary qualification in Occupational Health nursing that is recognised and registered with the SANC.
  • Depending on the scope of work and the risk profile, a client may appoint a Construction Health and Safety Agent or Construction Health and Safety Manager to represent him/her on matters of health and safety. Provided that, where the question arises as to whether a Construction Health Safety Agent or a Construction Health and Safety Manager is necessary, the decision of an inspector will be decisive.
  • It is confirmed that SANS 10085 is referred to in Regulation 16(2).

It appears as if the DoL did not get many more queries as the rest of the Guidelines only touch on small issues. The Guidelines do, however, clarify a number of issues that has led to some substantial confusion.

Should there be any further questions in this regard, please feel free to contact Joep Joubert directly at joep@advantageact.co.za.