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Health Safety Staff Explanation

Safety Manager

What is a safety Manager?

A Safety Manager is a management position.

A safety manager is a qualified and competent employee who is responsible for the preparation, execution and continuous improvement of the safety management system (SMS) within an organization. This individual is the prime mover of all safety related issues in the organization.

A safety manager is the key person in the safety management system (SMS) of the organization. The major job of a safety manager is to ensure a safe workplace by planning and executing safety practices by preventive measures, training and educating the employees as required by local law, compliance and best practices in the industry. This individual is generally responsible for the following:

  • Promoting safety awareness among the employees
  • Arranges and coordinates safety training and exercises
  • Suggest departmental heads on safety issues and corrective actions to be taken
  • Ensure that safety has the priority over all operation Investigate and report accidents and near misses
  • Follow up post injury procedures
  • Convener of the safety meetings
  • Assists safety inspections and audits
  • Dealing with external party safety requirements, such as; o Risk and insurance underwriters and auditors
    • ISO auditors
    • DOL inspectors
    • Client safety auditors

Manage all aspects of the SMS including:

  • Providing safety advices to the top management
  • Monitoring and controlling for the effective SMS
  • Proposing corrective actions and improvements
  • Producing safety reports
  • Preparing and updating safety-related documents and records

The above responsibilities may vary depending on the type, size, goal, environment and operations of the organization as following:  In a large organization:

The safety manager is appointed exclusively for safety management with staff and a separate office. He or she acts as the focal point for safety reports and information. He or she provides guidance and expertise on safety related issues.

In a small organization: One manager is additionally tasked with these duties. No separate department exists and the safety-related functions are delegated to the concerned managers. A safety manager needs to have professional certificate on industrial health and safety. He or she needs to have a working knowledge of the following:

  • OSHA and other local or federal safety standards
  • Environmental safety standards
  • Occupational and emergency safety procedures
  • Construction safety standards
  • Labor and environmental laws
  • Other safety related issues

What are the Legislation requirements for a Safety Manager?

Only the Construction Regulations of 2014 has a defined requirement for a safety manager:

Regulation 2 Scope of application

  • (1) These Regulations are applicable to all persons involved in construction work

“construction work” means any work in connection with—

  • (a) the construction, erection, alteration, renovation, repair, demolition or dismantling of or addition to a building or any similar structure; or
  • (b) the construction, erection, maintenance, demolition or dismantling of any bridge, dam, canal, road, railway, runway, sewer or water reticulation system; or the moving of earth, clearing of land, the making of excavation, piling, or any similar civil engineering structure or type of work;
  • (c) Notes: ‘Construction work’ in these regulations is limited to building works and civil engineering works and must be read with the definition of ‘structure’.

“structure” means—

  • (a) any building, steel or reinforced concrete structure (not being a building), railway line or siding, bridge, waterworks, reservoir, pipe or pipeline, cable, sewer, sewage works, fixed vessels, road, drainage works, earthworks, dam, wall, mast, tower, tower crane, bulk mixing plant, pylon, surface and underground tanks, earth retaining structure or any structure designed to preserve or alter any natural feature, and any other similar structure;
  • (b) any falsework, scaffold or other structure designed or used to provide support or means of access during construction work; or
  • (c) any fixed plant in respect of construction work which includes installation, commissioning, decommissioning or dismantling and where any construction work involves a risk of a person falling;

Regulation 3 Application for construction work permit

  • (1) A client who intends to have construction work carried out, must at least 30 days before that work is to be carried out apply to the provincial director in writing for a construction work permit to perform construction work if the intended construction work will—
  • (a) exceed 180 days;
  • (b) will involve more than 1800 person days of construction work; or
  • (c) the works contract is of a value equal to or exceeding thirteen million rand or Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) grading level 6.

Regulation 5 Duties of Client

  • (5) Where a construction work permit is required as contemplated in regulation 3(1), the client must, without derogating from his or her health and safety responsibilities or liabilities, appoint a competent person in writing as an agent to act as his or her representative, and where such an appointment is made the duties that are imposed by these Regulations upon a client, apply as far as reasonably practicable to the agent so appointed


  • d) A client may appoint a Construction Health and Safety Agent or Construction Health and Safety Manager based on the scope and risk profile of construction work 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 is decisive.

Do I need a Safety Manager?

Apart from the specification of the Construction Regulation, the short answer is No. but you still require a Safety Management System and you still need someone who can maintain it and carry out the duties as explained above.

Qualifications and Registrations

  • Recommended o Competent person (SAIOSH TechSaiosh or GradSaiosh)
  • Diploma in Safety Management
  • Appropriate registrations with SACPCMP


For Construction Work:

Safety Officer

What is a safety Officer?

A Safety Officer is a supervisory position.

As a health and safety officer, your number one priority is to look after the safety of employees in the workplace. By ensuring that all employees remain safe and healthy and that their work environment is risk-free, you’ll help to decrease injuries, accidents and illnesses, saving your company money, improving productivity, and boosting employee morale at the same time.

A Health and Safety Officer can be considered as the “implementor” of the SMS. He or she will assist the Safety Manager in their duties and provide feedback on health and safety matters arising from the implementation of the SMS.

On a day-to-day basis, some of your tasks might include:

  • Assist the Safety Manager with the implementation of the SMS
  • Performing regular site walks and safety spot checks
  • Keeping up to date with health and safety regulations
  • Conducting health and safety training sessions for employees
  • Checking on the condition of tools and equipment
  • Responding to and investigating potential workplace incidents
  • Conducting regular safety inspections
  • Ensuring compliance with health and safety legislation
  • Giving advice on health and safety, technical, and legal issues
  • Ensuring the working environment is free of potential hazards

What are the Legislation requirements for a Safety Officer?

The Legislation requirements for a safety officer are the same as the requirements within the construction regulations for a safety manager, however the construction regulations also include the following for a safety officer:

Regulation 8 Management and supervision of construction work

(5) A contractor must, after consultation with the client and having considered the size of the project, the degree of danger likely to be encountered or the accumulation of hazards or risks on the site, appoint a full-time or part-time construction health and safety officer in writing to assist in the control of all health and safety related aspects on the site: Provided that, where the question arises as to whether a construction health and safety officer is necessary, the decision of an inspector is decisive.

(6) No contractor may appoint a construction health and safety officer to assist in the control of health and safety related aspects on the site unless he or she is reasonably satisfied that the construction health and safety officer that he or she intends to appoint is registered with a statutory body approved by the Chief Inspector and has necessary competencies and resources to assist the contractor

Do I need a Safety Officer?

Apart from the specification of the Construction Regulation, the short answer is No. It is possible to assign the same duties and responsibilities of a safety officer to supervisory staff.

Qualifications and Registrations

  • Recommended Competent person (SAIOSH TechSaiosh)
  • Higher Certificate in Safety
  • For Construction Work of Appropriate registrations with SACPCMP

Safety Representative

What is a safety Representative?

A safety representative is a general position

A Health and Safety Representative, also known as a SHE Rep, is a person who is appointed in the workplace to represent his/her fellow employees to ensure that all risks and hazards are identified and dealt with as far as reasonably practicable. The Health and Safety Representative consults with and make representation to the employer in the Health and Safety Committee on all safety, health and welfare matters which may affect employees as well as any other person/s who may be affected by the work undertaken in a specific workplace.

Who is eligible to be a SHE Rep and how many are needed?

According to Section 17(4) of the OHS Act, employees need to be employed in a full time position, and acquainted with the conditions and activities (risk and hazards involved) in their specific work areas. The designation has to be done in writing and an agreed upon period must be reached between the employer and the Health & Safety Representative. An employer can’t simply appoint any employee as the Health and Safety Representative, or employ a new employee to fulfil this role as this position has to go through a nomination process.

When an employer employs more than 20 employees he needs to appoint 1 SHE Rep for every group of 50 employees for general industry and 1:100 for shops and offices. The Mine Health and Safety Act 29 of 1996 Section 25(1) requires that every mine with more than 20 employees appoint a Health & Safety Representative for each shift at each designated working place at the mine.

How does the appointment process work?

According to the General Administrative Regulations Section 6 in the Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) Act the employer must meet with the registered trade unions when a Health and Safety Representative needs to be appointed. If there is no registered trade union then the employer shall enter into consolidation with the employees of that workplace to conclude an agreement about the following:

  • The nomination or election process of the SHE Rep
  • The terms of office and the prescribed manner in which they can be removed, should they fail in their responsibilities;
  • The manner in which vacancies will be filled;
  • The manner in which Health and Safety Representative must perform their functions as per the OHS Act;
  • The facilities, training and assistance that must be provided in order for the Health and Safety Representative to complete his/her functions as per Section 18 of the OHS Act.

Why must Health & Safety Representative be appointed by a nomination process?

The SHE Rep appointment does not come with increased remuneration and the position should be filled by someone who would fulfil the function out of general interest in health and safety as well as someone who is respected by his/her fellow employees. When employees nominate this person they would usually choose someone that they look up to or respect and would therefore have no/little issues in taking instructions from them in the interest of health and safety. It is important to remember that just because an individual has been nominated does not mean that he/she has to fulfil the function, because the individual still needs to accept the nomination.

The Functions of Health and Safety Representatives

According to Section 18 of the OHS Act the following are the responsibilities of the SHE Rep:

A SHE Rep may:

  • Review the effectiveness of health and safety measures in the workspace for which he/she was appointed;
  • Identify potential hazards in the workplace;
  • Examine the causes of incidents;
  • Investigate employee complaints regarding health and safety;
  • Make representations to the employer regarding health and safety, and if successful, to an inspector;
  • Accompany inspectors on inspections and participate in consultations with the inspectors;
  • Receive information from inspectors as per Section 36 of the OHS Act;
  • Attend meetings for the health and safety committee of which he/she is a member.
  • A Health & Safety Representative has the right to:
  • Visit the site of an incident at all reasonable times and attend an inspection at the site of the incident;
  • Attend any investigation or formal enquiry;
  • Inspect documents kept by the employer in terms of the OHS Act, in order to perform his/her functions;
  • Accompany an inspector on any inspection;
  • With the approval of the employer, be accompanied by a technical adviser on any inspection;
  • Participate in any internal health and safety audit.

When should a Health & Safety Representative Carry out their Functions and What Training is Required?

All activities in connection with the designation, function and training of the SHE Rep must be completed during normal working hours. An employer can’t expect a representative to complete his/her functions after hours, or deduct leave days for attending accredited training.

The Health and Safety Representative course covers the basic information a SHE Rep needs to fulfil their functions. However additional training courses which includes Incident Investigation and HIRA as well as training highlighting specific workplace risk and hazards e.g. Stacking & Storage, HAZMAT and Snake Identification, Handling and Snakebite Treatment courses would assist greatly in undertaking their functions accurately.

Can a Health & Safety Representative Incur any Civil Liability?

According to Section 18(4) of the OHS Act a SHE Rep can not incur any civil liability if he/she fails to do anything that is required in terms of the OHS Act. The Health & Safety Representative can therefore not be sued for acting negligently in performing his/her functions as described in the OHS Act.

Remember that this exclusion only applies to the functions of the Health & Safety Representative. Should he/she cause an accident or incident outside the scope of his/her capacity then he/she could still be held criminally and civilly liable.

Find your Safety File Appointment letters here

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