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.


Health & Safety in SA – 10 easy wins for business compliance

  1. Do a Risk Analysis for your business. Here’s and example that you can adapt. The DoL may never ask you for yours, but if they do, then you’re good to go.
  2. Appoint 1st Aiders and Health and Safety rep’s. The DoL requires 1 x 1st Aider for every 100 staff in an office environment and 1 x 1st Aider for every 50 staff in a factory, DC or similar. You will require the same ratio for Health and Safety rep’s.
  3. Train your staff. We can recommend John Hambleton of Frontline Emergency Care for 1st Aid training. For Health & Safety training, speak to Ken Annandale of Intra produces customisable safety training courses, and do your own training.
  4. Fire Fighters are not a requirement by the DoL. It would be wise to train your staff wrt to the use of a fire extinguisher, but the DoL does not specify Fire Fighters as legal appointments.
  5. Health & Safety meetings – hold these at least once a quarter. Minute the meeting, get attendees to sign a register, which needs to be attached to the meeting minutes and remedy any points that are raised. This is a DoL requirement.
  6. First aid kits– stock your 1st aid kit with DoL specified items only. Don’t give anything orally. Ever. Here is a link to the list
  7. Fire signage –is photoluminescent, SABS approved and spec’d to SANS 1186-5 8279 MDC requirements.
  8. Fire equipment such as fire extinguishers and hose reels need to be serviced on an annual basis. The white tally on the unit will show the date when last serviced and what the date for the next service is.
  9. Incident Registers – keep a register handy for inspection by the DoL. This can be a simple exercise book that lists any incidents in the store that involve Health and Safety. These incidents relate to staff and customers.
  10. Building evacuation exercises – ensure that you do an annual evacuation exercise with your staff, so that they know what to do in the event of an emergency. Document the exercise with dates, times taken to evacuate and assemble at emergency points and if you can, take photo’s to accompany the report.