When the DoL comes knocking

The pages below are an example of the kind of document the Department of Labour might leave with you, after an inspection. These pages are from a well known national retailers store. Let’s have a look at a couple of things that are relevant on this page.

  1. The document – must bear the logo of the Department of Labour. The person who is conducting the inspection of your store should also carry some ID, showing who they are and that they are with the DoL. Generally, they are courteous and there to help, so cooperate as best you can. Note that under no circumstances do the the DoL issue spot fines and expect payments to be made on demand. There is a legal process that is followed, should a matter need to be taken further, and that process does not involve spot fines.
  2. The document – in question is a Man 794 form (see top right) and as you can see, is a “Direction Notice: Contravention/Improvement” directive.
  3. Critically, – the Direction Notice will allow you 60 days to remedy whatever it is you are in contravention of, or need to fix. So don’t panic, you’ve got a bit of time and you’ll find that almost everything that needs fixing, is easily achievable.
  4. The handwriting – at the bottom of the page is written verbatim from the OHS Act. I wasn’t at the store during the inspectors visit, but am assuming that they would have explained to the store manager, the relevance of this piece of text.
  5. In essence, – the store should have available for staff to view, and executive summary of the Company’s Health and Safety Policy or Manifesto. This is normally an overview of the the company’s commitment to the health and safety of their staff and is signed by the CEO, who is the company’s 16.1 appointment. There should also be available for viewing, a summary of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and well as a summary of the Employment Equity Act. Retail stores do not have the space available to put up A2 sized posters in store, so an electronic version will do. This can be on one of the PC’s in the store, just so long as staff know that they have access to the document, should they feel the urge to read it. It also shows good intent, from a head office perspective.

This is the second page from the Department of Labours visit. Let’s have a look at what this is all about.

  1. Section 16.(2) – “without derogating from his responsibility, (i.e. passing the buck)….” the 16.1 appointee (this is a legal appointment and not elective.)assumes total responsibility for all aspects of Health & Safety. The CEO cannot decide if they do or don’t want to be the 16.1. By virtue of their position as CEO, HE IS the 16.1 for the business. The CEO is, however, able to appoint anyone who they feel is responsible enough or high enough in management to then become a 16.2. This is also a legal appointment and is there to assist the 16.1. Now, at store level, it is questionable as to whether the Department of Labour can compel you to appoint a store employee as a 16.2. The store employee does not have enough “skin in the game” to be a 16.2 and although store H&S is not complicated, the appointment at that level would be unfair. For all practical purposes, an area or regional manager would be the better choice based on position, responsibility and experience.
  2. GSR2(1) – which stands for General Safety Regulations, section 2.1, in case you were wondering. Now, I have absolutely no idea why this second point has been written up for the store. Stores generally don’t have moving machinery (I don’t think cash tills or vacuum cleaners count)so quite how this made it, is beyond me. I assume the DoL inspector would have shed some light on the matter.

The final page from the Department of Labours visit.

  1. GAR(9(2)”An employer or user shall cause….”This refers to the fact that every incident in the store, relating to health and safety, should be investigated. My experience is that realistically, an incident may take place once every two or three years. This may involve a customer or employee slipping and injuring themselves or similar. All you need do is have an inexpensive exercise book, in which you record the details of what happened, what happened to the person concerned and any remedial action. For example, if someone tripped over a loose or protruding floor tile, note as such and then mention that the tile was re-affixed or grouted, thus solving the problem. Make sure the incident book is available, should the inspector ask for it.
  2. FR 9 – Facilities Regulations 9 – speaks to the necessity to maintain the area in question, in a clean, safe and hygienic condition.

By Safetynut

Health & Safety adviser in the South African Market

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