Government promises to transform SA's occupational health and safety landscape

The Department of Employment and Labour has announced plans to employ 500 new inspectors.

The Department of Employment and Labour has announced plans to employ 500 occupational health and safety (OHS) inspectors in a move that will bring major change to the workplace.

Speaking at the occupational health and safety conference being held at the Emperors Palace in Ekurhuleni, the department’s Chief Inspector Tibor Szana said they had plans to totally transform health and hygiene practices in the country. This, he said, would require broadening the Department of Employment and Labour scope of work by also focusing on the small, medium, and micro enterprises (SMMEs), and the informal sector.

“In the next 10 years, health and hygiene will never be the same. We are clear about what we are about to do. When we look back this will be a major turning point. We will be leveraging on the use of technologies to fulfil our objectives,” he said.

The conference whose theme was “Strategic co-operation to promote decent work and achieve ‘Vision Zero’ in occupational injuries and diseases,’ saw delegates discuss a multitude of workplace issues, the outcome of which will certainly be of interest to HR leaders. The topics range from gender aspects in OHS and psychological conditions after an occupational injury to the impact of ageing workers on OHS and the plan for addressing occupational diseases in the country. 

There are currently some 21 regulations governing the health and safety environments, which Szana said would be of no value if the high accident environments persist.

“We are doing all this to prepare for challenges posed by the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” Szana said, adding that the health and safety profession was on the cusp of major change.