The regulations will help to prevent occupational risks relating to exposure to ergonomic hazards.
On Tuesday, 10 March, the Department of Labour launched the South African Ergonomics Regulations at Destiny Hotel and Conference Centre in Kempton Park.
According to Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi, it is an employer’s duty and responsibility to prevent occupational diseases and injuries relating to exposure to ergonomic hazards in their workplace.
Ergonomics is the understanding of interactions between humans and other elements of a workplace system. The new regulations focus on the processes and activities in any company and require employers to implement a programme to control the exposure of employees and other people affected by their actions, to ergonomic hazards.
The regulations are intended to act as a guide to all employers, employees and the public concerned with the control and prevention of exposure to ergonomic risks in the workplace. They will apply to any employer or self-employed person who carries out work at a workplace that may expose any person to ergonomic risks in that workplace.
These ergonomic risks include:
- Heavy lifting
- Repeatable, strenuous or uncomfortable movement
- Improperly positioned workstations and chairs
- Driving without a break for long periods
Minister Thulas said:
“The ergonomics programme is not a stand-alone programme, but rather another aspect to be incorporated into the employer’s already existing health and safety programmes. The regulations also place duties on designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers. This aims to eliminate or reduce ergonomic hazards in the early stages of designing systems and equipment, rather than trying to find a solution once there is a final product.”
He says that the regulations have been developed in line with the Constitution of South Africa of 1996 and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
“With the development and promulgation of the new regulations, South Africa has become one of the leading countries to regulate ergonomics and reduce ergonomic hazards in the workplace. We can be proud of this. These regulations are in everyone’s interests – improving working conditions as well as performance,” Thulas said.