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Occupational health and safety

Occupational health and safety

See: Emergency Care Procedures

  1. The Occupational Health and Safety Act No 85 of 1993 requires UCT to provide and maintain, as far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of employees, students and visitors.

    As required by the Act, UCT has safety committees, and every area has an elected Health and Safety Representative. Health and safety, as conceived by the Occupational Health and Safety Act, is everyone's responsibility yet Council has included a specific responsibility in the duties of the Vice-Chancellor, Executive Officers and Heads of Departments. This makes the head responsible for safety in his/her department, including, but not limited to the responsibility of ensuring that students, staff and visitors to the department are safeguarded and protected from physical risk, and that safe working procedures are adhered to at all times.

  2. The Occupational Health and Safety Act places specific and particular responsibilities on the Vice-Chancellor of the University, who is charged with the responsibility of ensuring compliance with the provisions of the Act.

    The Act provides that the Vice-Chancellor may, without derogating from his/her responsibilities and liabilities, assign to any person any duty contemplated in the Act.

    1. General duties of employees at work:
      1. To take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions.
      2. As regards any duty or requirement imposed on his employer or any other person by this Act, to co-operate with such employer or person to enable that duty or requirement to be performed or complied with.
      3. To carry out any lawful order given to him, and obey the health and safety rules and procedures laid down by his employer or by anyone authorised thereto by his employer, in the interest of health or safety.
      4. Should any unsafe or unhealthy situation come to his attention, to report it as soon as possible to his employer or to the relevant Health and Safety Representative who will report it to the employer.
      5. If he is involved in any incident which may affect his health or which has caused an injury to himself, to report such incident to his employer or to anyone authorised thereto by the employer, or to his Health and Safety Representative. This should be done as soon as possible, but not later than the end of the particular shift during which the incident occurred (unless the circumstances were such that the reporting of the incident was not possible, in which case he shall report the incident as soon as possible thereafter).
  3. Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, 1993.

    This legislation provides mechanisms for compensation to staff members who are injured on duty, or who suffer from occupational illnesses. It provides rules for claims, and for notifying the commissioner of accidents and diseases. The following list some of the features of the system that are likely to be of direct interest to university staff (subject to new legislation being passed)

    1. The Act provides for the payment of benefits to an "employee" injured or ill as a result of an accident arising out of and in the course of his/her employment.
    2. All members of staff, regardless of salary, are covered under this Act.
    3. A compensation fund is established in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, which is applied by the Commissioner to payment of compensation, medical aid or other benefit to, on behalf of, or in respect of employees, in terms of the Act.
    4. The Act makes it mandatory for an employer to report to the commissioner all accidents arising out of and in the course of employment which result in personal injury. It is essential that any accident (no matter how slight) be reported immediately by the employee/s involved (or those who witnessed) to the Head of Department who will, in turn
      1. request the departmental Health and Safety Representative to carry out an investigation, and
      2. advise the Occupational Health Nurse or the Insurance Officer (under UCT Finance Department) who will, in turn, send a W.CL.2/100(E) and annexure 2 forms for completion.
      3. all accidents are reported by the Insurance Office to the Occupational Health and Safety Office as soon as possible after the event. In the normal course of events, accidents must be reported to the Commissioner within 14 days.
    5. The injured staff must seek any required medical treatment as soon as possible.

      If he/she requires medical treatment, the Department Head must complete the official form W.CL.2/100(E), obtainable from the Insurance Office or Occupational Health Nurse, and send PART B along with the injured staff member to the doctor or hospital. The original of the official form, PART A, must be sent back to the Insurance Office. The annexure 2 form must be kept by the department as it will form part of the accident register which is maintained by each departmental Health and Safety Representative.

      When completing form W.CL.2/100(E) the following points should be noted:

      • Item 3(d) states that a full description of the accident must be given.
      • Item 10 and 12 must always be fully completed (i.e. the dates and times of going off duty as a result of accident, and of resuming duty).
      • Minor injuries which do not require medical treatment and those that do not result in absence from work for more than three days need not be reported to the Commissioner. The annexure 2 form must however be obtained from the Insurance Office or the Occupational Health Nurse, completed and retained. This will be kept on file for reference should complications arise. The departmental Health and Safety Representative must again be advised.
    6. Further information and guidance may be obtained from the Insurance Office, Finance Department at UCT.
  4. Reporting accidents under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, No 85 of 1993.
    1. In terms of section 24 of the Act, read with General Administrative Regulation 9, the employer or user of machinery must report to an inspector within 14 days (using the prescribed form obtainable from the Occupational Health and Safety Office). Section 24 reads as follows:

      "24 (1) Each incident occurring at work or arising out of or in connection with the activities of persons at work, or in connection with the use of plant or machinery, in which, or in consequence of which -

      (a) any person dies, becomes unconscious, suffers the loss of a limb or part of a limb or is otherwise injured or becomes ill to such a degree that he is likely either to die or suffer a permanent physical defect or likely to be unable for a period of at least 14 days either to work or to continue with the activity of which he was employed or is usually employed;

      (b) a major incident occurred; or

      (c) the health or safety of any person was endangered and where -

      (i) a dangerous substance was spilled;

      (ii) the uncontrolled release of any substance under pressure took place;

      (iii) machinery or any part thereof fractured or failed resulting in flying, falling or uncontrolled moving objects; or

      (iv) machinery ran out of control, shall, within the prescribed period and in the prescribed manner, be reported to an inspector by the employer or the user of the plant or machinery concerned, as the case may be.

      (2) In the event of an incident in which a person died, or was injured to such an extent that he is likely to die, or suffered the loss of a limb or part of a limb. no person shall without the consent of an inspector disturb the site at which the incident occurred or remove any article or substance involved in the incident therefrom: Provided that such action may be taken as is necessary to prevent a further incident, to remove the injured or dead, or to rescue persons from danger.

      (3) The provisions of subsections (1) and (2) shall not apply in respect of -

      (a) a traffic accident on a public road;

      (b) an incident occurring in a private household, provided the householder forthwith reports the incident to the South African Police; or

      (c) any accident which is to be investigated under section 12 of the Aviation Act, 1962 (Act No. 74 of 1962).

      (4) A member of the South African Police to whom an incident was reported in terms of subsection (3) (b), shall forthwith notify an inspector thereof."

    2. General Administrative Regulations 9 paragraphs (1) and (2) refers to witnesses at an Inquiry and reads as follows:

      "9 (1) When an inspector is directed to hold a formal inquiry into an incident in terms of section 21 (1) of the Act, he or she shall notify the employer or user concerned, as the case may be, of the date, time and place of such inquiry and such employer or user shall forthwith advise those persons who witnessed the incident and any other person specified by the inspector, of such date, time and place, and that their presence shall be required at the inquiry.

      (2) The employer or user concerned, as the case may be, shall ascertain which of the persons he or she has advised in terms of subregulation (1) are likely to refuse to attend the inquiry, and shall forthwith advise the inspector of the name sand addresses of such persons in other that the inspector can subpoena such persons."

    3. Any further information may be obtained from the Occupational Health and Safety Office

Emergency Care Procedures

  1. The staff at the Student Health Service (SHS) are trained and equipped to handle medical emergencies, but the co-operation and assistance of staff is required.
  2. What to do in a medical emergency
    1. Call the Student Health Service
      • upper campus ext. 3545
      • lower campus ext. 3662
    2. Tell the receptionist that there is an emergency and ask to speak to a doctor or nurse
    3. If necessary, call EMS ER24 on 084124 (speed-dial 8110).
    4. When staff call the Student Health Service they should indicate
      1. who they are and where the patient is (which building, which floor, the room/lecture theatre)
      2. the nature and severity of the problem (e.g. a staff member has collapsed during a lecture and is unconscious, cold and sweaty; a student fainted during an examination, but has regained consciousness and is alert and oriented; a worker fell off a scaffolding, is bleeding from a head wound and is conscious but confused).
  3. If a student or staff member collapses in class, staff should try to move him/her to an open space where SHS staff will have easy access to him/her. Staff should not move someone who has fallen from a height and sustained an injury.
  4. Heads of Departments should be aware of any serious/problematic medical conditions their staff members may suffer from (e.g. diabetes, epilepsy, asthma, high blood pressure, cardiac conditions). This information must be conveyed to SHS staff when they are dealing with an emergency.
  5. Heads of Departments should keep a list of people in their department or buildings who have undergone first aid training, and call them after having contacted the SHS. The SHS staff might take some time to reach the scene of the emergency, whereas someone in the building who has first aid training could be on the scene in seconds.

Page last updated: 18 April 2012