LAST week, South Africa joined the world in commemorating safety, health and welfare at work. 

According to Section 8 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act: “The employer has a duty to ensure employees’ safety, health and welfare at work, as far as is reasonably practicable.” 

To prevent workplace injuries and ill health, it’s compulsory for employers to provide and maintain a safe workplace, which uses safe equipment, among other requirements. 

This month also high-lighted the importance of looking after one’s self, and how our health was crucial to performing at our best. 

Most people spend their time at work, so it’s crucial that the working conditions or environment of places of employment be safe for employees. 

Big and small companies have to adapt to the Safety Act and create a working environment that won’t put workers at risk. 

Agnes Maphumulo, who owns a catering company that employs 20 people, said food was a very delicate component, which made it easy for people to get food poisoning. 

“We have a procedure that we use as a team because the service we render is very important. As a team leader, I make sure that we work under good conditions and are always extra-careful,” Agnes said. 

“There are things you can avoid that will cause harm to your employees. 

“I created my own policy, and so far, we have a good working synergy and the team has been safe so far.” 

According to Agnes, her catering business makes it easier for her to follow the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act. 

Said Agnes: “I understand that employees need to be healthy and safe, so I monitor my workers. 

“The advantage is that I have a small team, which allows me to know each and everyone in the team. 

“I’ve also learnt that education was a useful aid, so I get qualified people to come in now and again to educate my employees about the important subject of hygiene.”

Spokesperson Tebogo Thebajana said the Labour Department celebrated the day by educating employers about safety and health at the workplace – for both big and small companies. 

The celebration was in line with Section 8 Act in the Constitution, stating that both employers and employees need to be safe at the workplace. 

“Employers need to ensure they maintain a safe and healthy environment. There should be reps appointed by the company. Represantatives will also ensure injuries and diseases are avoided by informing other employees about safety precautions,” Tebogo said. 

“Representatives also need to ensure that when there’s fire, they help employees to remain calm. This really helps in terms of avoiding panic attacks in an emergency.” 

According to Tebogo, there were emergency incidents that often occurred. 

Some companies had fire drills performed once in a while, to prepare employees when and if the building caught fire. 

There were also emergency exists to help employees escape and remain safe.