Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

1.3 Occupational Health & Safety Act 85, 1993

ryanrori June 15, 2020

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Where the Constitution enshrines our rights pertaining to health and safety, the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85, 1993, as amended (OHS Act), and other relevant legislation prescribes the different responsibilities and liabilities of both the employer and the employee.

The OHS Act replaced the old Machinery and Occupational Safety Act in 1993, which in turn replaced the older Factories Act of 1941 in 1983.  As technology develops it is necessary for legislators to regularly revise and adapt legislation to keep abreast of technological developments and related issues.

The Purpose of the Act

  • To provide for the health and safety of persons at work and for the health and safety of persons in connection with the use of plant and machinery.
  • The protection of persons other than persons at work against hazards to health and safety arising out of or in connection with the activities of persons at work.
  • To establish an advisory council for occupational health and safety; and to provide for matters connected therewith.


Following are some definitions from the OHS Act:

β€œIn this Act, unless the context otherwise indicates –

  • accident” means an accident arising out of and in the course of an employee’s employment and resulting in a personal injury, illness or the death of the employee.
  • chief executive officer“, in relation to a body corporate or an enterprise conducted by the State, means the person who is responsible for the overall management and control of the business of such body corporate or enterprise.
  • danger” means anything which may cause injury or damage to persons or property.
  • employee” means, subject to the provisions of subsection (2), any person who is employed by or works for an employer and who receives or is entitled to receive any remuneration or who works under the direction or supervision of an employer or any other person.
  • employer” means, subject to the provisions of subsection (2), any person who employs or provides work for any person and remunerates that person or expressly or tacitly undertakes to remunerate him, but excludes a labour broker as defined in section I (1) of the Labour Relations Act, 1956 (Act No. 28 of 1956).
  • hazard” means a source of or exposure to danger.
  • health and safety committee” means a committee established under section 19.
  • health and safety equipment” means any article or part thereof which is manufactured, provided or installed in the interest of the health or safety of any person.
  • health and safety representative” means a person designated in terms of section 17 (1).
  • health and safety standard” means any standard, irrespective of whether or not it has the force of law, which, if applied for the purposes of this Act, will in the opinion of the Minister promote the attainment of an object of this Act.
  • healthy” means free from illness or injury attributable to occupational causes.
  • incident” means an incident as contemplated in section 24 (1).
  • inspector” means a person designated under section 28.
  • machinery” means any article or combination of articles assembled, arranged or connected and which is used or intended to be used for converting any form of energy to performing work, or which is used or intended to be used, whether incidental thereto or not, for developing, receiving, storing, containing, confining, transforming, transmitting, transferring or controlling any form of energy.
  • occupational health” includes occupational hygiene, occupational medicine and biological monitoring.
  • occupational hygiene” means the anticipation, recognition, evaluation and control of conditions arising in or from the workplace, which may cause illness or adverse health effects to persons.
  • plant” includes fixtures, fittings, implements, equipment, tools and appliances, and anything which is used for any purpose in connection with such plant.
  • premises” includes any building, vehicle, vessel, train or aircraft; “prescribed” means prescribed by regulation.
  • properly used” means used with reasonable care, and with due regard to any information, instruction or advice supplied by the designer, manufacturer, importer, seller or supplier.”
  • reasonably practicable” means practicable having regard to:
    • the severity and scope of the hazard or risk concerned;
    • the state of knowledge reasonably available concerning that hazard or risk and of any means of removing or mitigating that hazard or risk;
    • the availability and suitability of means to remove or mitigate that hazard or risk; and
    • the cost of removing or mitigating that hazard or risk in relation to the benefits deriving therefrom.
  • regulation” means a regulation made under section 43.
  • risk” means the probability that injury or damage will occur.
  • safe” means free from any hazard.
  • substance” includes any solid, liquid, vapour, gas or aerosol, or combination thereof.
  • this Act” includes any regulation.
  • user“, in relation to plant or machinery, means the person who uses plant or machinery for his own benefit or who has the right of control over the use of plant or machinery, but does not include a lessor of, or any person employed in connection with, that plant or machinery.
  • work” means work as an employee or as a self-employed person, and for such purpose an employee is deemed to be at work during the time that he is in the course of his employment, and a self-employed person is deemed to be at work during such time as he devotes to work as a self-employed person.
  • workplace” means any premises or place where a person performs work in the course of his employment.

Some definitions refer to other subsections or sections in this Act. (Refer to your copy of the Act.)

Other relevant legislation includes:

  • Road Traffic Act 93, 1996.
  • Mine Health and Safety Act 29, 1996.
  • Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130, 1993. (COIDA)
  • Environmental Conservation Act 73, 1989.
  • Water Act 54, 1956 and Water Amendment Act 1993.
  • Smoking Act 12, 1999.
  • National Environmental Management Act 107, 1998.
  • Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act 45, 1965.


For purposes of this training intervention, we will focus mainly on the OHS Act and refer to relevant legislation where necessary