The Occupational Health and Safety Representative of an organisation forms an integral part of the management structure. The elected OHS has a crucial role to play when it comes to achieving safe and healthy workplaces.
In certain sectors (such as construction and manufacturing), the OHS Act mandates a qualified and skilled OHS representative. In other words, the employer cannot simply appoint any employee to fulfil the specific roles and responsibilities of the OHS.
Here are some helpful guidelines on the responsibilities and requirements of an OHS:
According to Section 18 of the OHS Act, the following are the responsibilities of the OHS Representative:
- Review the effectiveness of health and safety measures in the workspace for which he/she was appointed;
- Identify and protect employees from 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.
For a OHS representative to do his/her job effectively, they would also have to:
- Be pro-active in employee training;
- Be proficient in writing reports about accidents and incidents;
- Make sure that all OHS guidelines are explicitly followed;
- Organise trainging sessions in the proper use of equipment;
- Plan, organise and excecute training in emercency protocols. This wil include live drills and simulations of hazardous events;
- Identify problems during training sessions and suggest solutions & new protocols;
Occupational Health and Safety Representatives have an important role within the workplace. Their responsibilities concern safety, health and welfare matters which affect employees, as well as anyone else who may undertake work in the specified workplace.
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