Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

1.5 Safety Conditions

ryanrori July 6, 2020

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Outcome

Report on safety conditions in work area

Assessment criteria
  • An understanding of statutory rights, responsibilities and liability and safety, health and environmental objectives, standards and regulations is demonstrated
  • Safety and environmental inspections in work area are conducted
  • Unsafe conditions are identified and appropriate corrective action taken
  • Reports on safety, health and environmental conditions in work area are available
  • Reports are regularly completed according to workplace scheduling requirements in a timely manner in the required format.
  • Respond to ‘what if’ and ‘why’ questions covering reporting requirements.

Reporting On Hazards and Unsafe Conditions

When you witness someone performing unsafe acts in the workplace, or you notice unsafe conditions in the workplace it is your responsibility to report these conditions.

The purpose of a health and safety program is to prevent accidents, injuries and losses from occurring.  This is why inspections are done.  After the inspections have been done, the health and safety representative must report his/her findings, so that action can be taken if necessary to prevent accidents from happening.

The reporting procedure would depend on the type of inspection:

Continuous and frequent inspections will usually be carried out by the people doing the work, using an inspection sheet, and they will report to their supervisors by means of a completed inspection sheet.  Inspection of a vehicle before leaving the premises is an example.

Planned maintenance will be scheduled in advance and the people responsible for the maintenance will also complete job cards or inspection sheets.  Maintenance of machinery and vehicles are examples of this kind of inspection.  When a bus or truck is taken to the workshop for a service, the mechanics will do the maintenance and affect any repairs that are necessary.  The job will then be signed off by the mechanic and the foreman.

Regular inspections will usually be the duty of the health and safety representatives as it is the responsibility of the health and safety committee to make sure that there is an effective health and safety program in place.  Any deviations from the health and safety program must be reported to the health and safety committee.

Steps to follow when reporting

Report any discrepancies to the employee and his/her supervisor immediately

Once a hazard has been identified, it must be classified according to the severity, frequency and exposure, so that priority can be given to managing the risk.  High priority hazards require immediate attention, while hazards with a low score will not demand the same urgency.

If the priority is high, alert the supervisor and employees, as well as management and the health and safety committee about the hazard immediately.  Discuss and find solutions that will not compromise the health and safety standards immediately.

Kindly note that even low priority hazards must be brought to the attention of the employees and the supervisor immediately.  It could be that the employees involved are not aware that they are not adhering to the proper procedures.  Discuss the matter with them, in this way you can ensure their cooperation.

Suggest corrective action that can be taken

Discuss possible corrective actions that can be taken with the employees and the supervisor(s).  They are the experts as far as the workflow processes are concerned and your suggestions may disrupt their workflow.  Ensure that health and safety is not compromised by new procedures.

Report discrepancies to the health and safety committee

Report the discrepancies as well as any corrective action that was taken to the health and safety committee.  Make sure that you submit your report in writing.

Follow up

It is important that you follow up to ensure that the corrective action was taken and that new procedures are being implemented.  People tend to fall back in old bad habits and sometimes need reminding to do the work in a healthy and safe manner.

Examples of corrective action that can be recommended:

  • Sloppy housekeeping practices: each employee must be motivated to clean up continuously
  • Not wearing protective clothing: arrange a small training session where the consequences of not wearing protective clothing are described to employees graphically.
  • Operating machinery without safety guards: arrange a small training session where the consequences of operating machines without safety guards are described to employees graphically. If possible show them photos or pictures of injuries that were caused due to unsafe actions.
  • Dangerous substances not stored properly: make sure that employees understand the consequences to themselves and their fellow workers if they do not comply with safe working practices
  • Overloading of vehicles: make sure that employees understand the consequences to themselves as well as the company if they continue overloading vehicles, e.g. drivers can lose their PrDP (professional driving permit), causing a loss if income.
  • Electrical cables are a tripping hazard: the cables can be relaid so that they run along walls rather than over open floor space. Where cables have to run over open floor space, cover the cable with duct tape or something else so that they do not present a tripping hazard.

Usually the employees and supervisor of the department will be able to give you excellent solutions that can be implemented.

Methods of reporting

Each organisation will have a system in place for reporting procedures.  Normally, interdepartmental communication will take place in the form of a memorandum.  It is important to note that any verbal communication between H&R representatives and employees/management should be followed up by some form of written communication.

When reporting on health and safety matters, follow the structure of your inspection sheet, as all the information will be found there.

Safe and productive work area

The only way to ensure a safe and productive work area is by taking the following steps:

  1. Implement a health and safety program in the workplace
  2. Conduct regular inspections
  3. Report on unsafe working conditions and practices
  4. Take corrective action

If unsafe working conditions and practices are not corrected, accidents, injuries and losses will happen as people will go on doing the unsafe things.

An unsafe workplace undermines every employee’s right to work safely – remember that every employee has the right to be fully informed.

Health and safety meetings

As mentioned previously, the health and safety committee must ensure that the health and safety program of the organisation is followed.  To do this, they ensure that inspections take place regularly and that reporting of unsafe acts and conditions is done promptly.

The health and safety committee must discuss these reports, as well as any incident that occurred in the workplace, as well as the number of injuries, deaths and occupational diseases that occurred.  These matters are discussed during health and safety meetings.  These meetings will follow the same procedures and generate the same documentation as any other meeting.

Who must attend these meetings?

  • H&R representatives – the number of H&R representatives are laid down in the OHS Act85, 1993.
  • Management members that are appointed by management – there must not be more management members than H&R representatives
  • A chairman, who will usually be a manager or, in a small business, the owner of the business
  • A secretary selected by the committee to distribute agendas, record and distribute minutes of the meetings and draw up attendance registers.
  • Co-opted members who will usually be specialists when additional information is needed. Co-opted members will usually not attend all meetings and are not allowed to vote.

Documentation of meetings

typical meeting documentation includes

  • an agenda
  • attendance register
  • minutes

Agenda

The Agenda is a list, or programme of the items of business to be discussed at a meeting.  The items of business are set out in the order in which they are to occur.

Setting the agenda is a crucial task, as it defines the boundaries of the discussion that will proceed during the course of a meeting.  A carefully prepared and managed agenda will keep the group focused on achieving the desired outcomes. It can serve as a route map of the meeting that everyone can refer to.

In theory, the Chairman of the meeting draws up the Agenda, but in practice the Secretary usually does this.  The Chairman must still agree the Agenda before it is distributed

Refer to the following when drawing up an agenda:
  • Minutes of the previous meeting: for any unfinished business left over from the previous meeting, called matters arising.
  • Propositions received: who wants to add items to the Agenda
  • Correspondence: which may relate to the previous or the coming meeting
  • Action taken following the previous meeting

These sources of information will help you derive the main items of business for the Agenda.

Information that must appear on the Agenda
  • Title, date, time and place of the meeting
  • Apologies for absence
  • Minutes of the previous meeting
  • Matters arising from the previous meeting (Unfinished business)
  • Other items to be discussed and decided
  • Any other business
  • Date, time and place of the next meeting

Always ensure that the Agenda is neat and well laid out.  Write in a clear, concise style, check grammar, punctuation and spelling.  You can even ask a colleague to review your draft and make suggestions for improvement.

Items that may appear regularly on the Agenda:
  • Minutes of the previous meeting
  • Matters arising from the previous meeting’s minutes
  • Date of the next meeting
  • General – can also be called any other business
  • Closure of the meeting
General notes regarding Agendas
  • Next to each item on the agenda, briefly describe what is to be discussed so that its purpose is clear to member who will be attending the meeting.
  • The Agenda should be kept as short as possible, it should be consistent (reliable), and unambiguous (clear, no double meanings)
  • Any relevant additional papers should accompany the Agenda and they should be clearly referred to in the Agenda. These are known as Agenda papers.
  • When drawing up the Agenda, think about what information can be presented in the form of appendices, such as additions and attachments, and agenda papers, rather than having lengthy description in the Agenda itself.
Layout of the Agenda

The layout of the Agenda is very important, as the order of the Agenda normally determines the order that discussions will take place in during the meeting.

The Agenda will usually appear on an official letterhead.  The heading of the Agenda should answer the questions: “who, where and when”:

The Minutes Of The Meeting

Importance of Minutes

The secretary usually takes the minutes of the meeting, however, these days this job can be handed to just about any member of the meeting.  Producing the minutes of a meeting could possibly be the most demanding task a secretary or office clerk will have to perform.

  • This document is called ‘minutes’, because it is a minute-by-minute record of procedures taking place at the meeting.
  • The minutes must be an accurate record of the meeting’s business. Members will read them carefully, looking for potential errors, slights or inaccuracies.
  • The person taking the minutes must appreciate the value of discretion. Many people will say things in the heat of the moment that are later regretted.  These comments are normally not recorded verbatim.
  • Minutes serve as a reminder of responsibility and tend to encourage courteous behaviour on the part of committee members.
  • Furthermore, minutes form the recorded and legal history of the committee and can always be referred back to, so they can also be used as a source of reference.
  • The minutes of a meeting provide a vital function in an organisation. An accurate and ongoing set of minutes provides a source of reference and confirms approval for action taken.
Purpose of minutes

Minutes have three purposes:

  • Constitutional: minutes serve as a record of the proceedings of a meeting and are often legally required.
  • Executive: minutes often provide the basis for action – somebody has to do something, and the person responsible is named and a due date for the action to be completed is set.
  • Progressive: minutes can serve as a basis for developing policy.

Action Minutes

The suggested format for minutes of health and safety committees is action minutes. The proceedings are reported briefly and the name of the person delegated to act on a particular item is entered in a column, usually on the right-hand side of the minutes page, opposite the item itself.

The advantage of such a format is that it is very clear who has undertaken or been asked to perform a specific task.  When the minutes are circulated, it is immediately clear to a member whether he is required to take any action in any way, or whether he may read and file the minutes on an ‘information only’ basis.

Minute Book

The Minute Book is where the Minute Book copies are filed.  The Companies Act makes it a legal requirement to maintain a Minute Book.  Ensure that the Minute Book is always stored in a safe place, where the minutes cannot be tampered with.

Example of action minutes

Minutes of the H&S committee meeting held on Monday 23 April 20…in the boardroom at 10:00.

 

Signed:

Chairman

Date:

General notes re minutes

Minutes of health and safety meetings must be available to all employees – they are not to be regarded as classified documents.

If necessary, distribute minutes of the meetings to all employees.

Records of the minutes must be kept for a period of 3 years.

Attendance Register

Draw up an attendance register.  Each member must sign this as proof of his/her physical presence at the meeting.

Powers of the H&S Committee

It is hoped that the health and safety committee will have the commitment and cooperation of employees as well as management

  1. The health and safety committee has the power to improve the program by making recommendations to management. Make sure that these recommendations are made in writing.
  2. The health and safety committee are obliged to discuss all incidents at the workplace that involve injury or death or that led to an employee becoming ill, and to make recommendations regarding action that will prevent such an incident occurring again.
  3. If the H&S committee does not get a commitment from management regarding corrective action or improvements to the program, the matter can be reported to inspectors of the Department of Labour.
Formative assessment 13 and 14

Completing the Inspection Checklist and Report Form

In order to ensure that inspections are conducted in a systematic manner, and that all important work areas and equipment are inspected, an inspection form should be used. This form will differ from company to company because each company has different premises and equipment.

On the next page is an example of an inspection form that can be used for the inspection of any premises, or part thereof. Usually a safety representative is appointed for a specific area in the workplace, and will then use the form for that area only.

The form below consists of two sections:

  • The actual inspection checklist where hazards and unsafe conditions are identified for a specific area in the workplace
  • The inspection report where the hazards/ unsafe conditions are analysed and classified in order to determine priority for corrective action to be taken

When completing the inspection checklist begin at the first point (Buildings and structures) and check for any hazards or unsafe conditions. If there is a hazard, indicate this by making a “x” in the “Yes” column. If no Hazard exists, make an “x” in the “no” column. If the area for which you are responsible does not contain an item to be inspected, for example point 2 Yard, Fences and Gates, leave the section blank.

When completing the inspection report, you are required to analyse each unsafe condition or hazard that was found during the inspection in terms of the following:

  • Severity (s) which is indication as to whether the risk/ unsafe condition is a major risk, serious risk, minor risk or negligible risk
  • Frequency (f) which indicate whether, if the risk is not attended to, how soon it will become a problem in terms of injuries or occupational diseases, for example, it will definitely be a problem, will probably happen in time, it will possibly happen in time or it is unlikely to happen in time.
  • Exposure (e) which denotes the number of people exposed to the hazard/ unsafe condition, for example, more than 50 persons, 49 – 10 persons, 9 – 5 persons and less than 5 persons.

When each of these ratings are added together, a total rating is obtained for each hazard/ unsafe condition. If this total is:

  • More than 6 immediate action must be taken, if less than 6 the hazard/ unsafe condition must be reported to the supervisor or at the SHE meeting.