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Suddenly, health and safety is top of companies’ priority list

It’s been that way for mines for a decade. Health and safety consulting group MAKROSAFE has teamed up with SafetyWallet to offer employers rewards for compliance.
The first step towards compliance is a health and safety audit that identifies any gaps. Image: Shutterstock

Covid-19 has forced companies everywhere to reprioritise what’s important, and occupational health and safety is now top of that list.

“It used to be the case that companies had a first aid kit locked away somewhere and considered they were compliant with the regulations, but that’s no longer the case,” says Leon van der Walt, CEO of health and safety consulting firm MAKROSAFE, which recently teamed up with SafetyWallet, a membership programme that encourages and rewards employers for being compliant with all occupational health and safety laws and regulations.

“The Covid outbreak has forced companies to take occupational health and safety far more seriously.”

A sign of the changing times is the number of companies employing in-house safety and health officers. But many are choosing to outsource this to companies like MAKROSAFE, which has a 24-year track record of creating healthy and safe working environments. The partnership with SafetyWallet now makes this even more affordable for companies.

Cost of compliance

Given the raft of laws, regulations and bylaws that companies are required to adhere to, the cost of compliance can be daunting for many.

For a company with fewer than 50 employees, MAKROSAFE and SafetyWallet can do the job for R4 000 a month, reducing to nearly half this as compliance targets are met.

MAKROSAFE recently teamed up with SafetyWallet to provide clients with rewards for meeting their health and safety targets. The financial rewards in the form of service discounts increase as compliance targets are met. This is similar to Discovery Health’s Vitality programme, which rewards members for staying healthy.

There’s another major benefit to this partnership: it is aimed at protecting employers and their employees against any criminal and civil liability by reducing workplace incidents, particularly as a result of non-compliance with the governing laws and regulations.

Some of the benefits provided by SafetyWallet include:

  • Health and safety matters that are handled by dedicated occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals;
  • Monthly newsletters;
  • Weekly updates on legislative matters;
  • Covid-19 support, assistance, guidance and advice;
  • OHS Online Health and Management System access;
  • Enquiries to the Department of Employment and Labour;
  • Department of Employment and Labour Incident Investigation as per the OHS Act; and
  • The management of injuries on duty (IODs).
SA Shares

Source: SA Shares

“There is going to be a lot more demanded of employers going forward, particularly now that companies are going to have to contend with the Covid virus and how it impacts safety in the work environment. It’s no longer good enough to have a first aid box and think that you are compliant. The risks of ignoring occupational health and safety, or taking short cuts, are becoming too onerous. This is now a major risk for all employers and we believe we have an important role in educating the public in these risks and how to overcome them,” says Van der Walt.

“The biggest gap we find in companies is there is no risk assessment in place. This is vital if you are to become compliant. The laws and regulations are subject to constant change, and this is where companies can find themselves out of step, which is why the kind of outsourcing service we offer is gaining so much popularity.”

What to expect

The first step in any engagement is a health and safety audit. This will identify the gaps and from this will be developed a road map to becoming compliant.

“On day one after you sign up with us, you get an 80% discount on your audit, which for most companies will amount to R700. We will look at all health and safety laws and regulations, as well as the bylaws in your area. This is loaded onto your dashboard with a road map on how to fix this. That auditor remains engaged with the company thereafter.”

Clients who sign up get access to 26 health and safety e-learning modules, 1 200 task templates related to specific workplace tasks and 46 inspection checklists, as well as regular legislative updates and safety alerts, among others.

“We have vast experience in this area, so we have built up a lot of in-house knowledge over the years which we can share with clients, the knowledge that is not easy to come by,” says Van der Walt.

Statistics collected by MAKROSAFE show that nearly 1 000 workers are injured across the country in SA each day, and five people suffer fatalities each day. That’s not only catastrophic for the families dependent on these workers but can also be massively disruptive to production.

These stats are completely unacceptable, says Van der Walt, as most of them are avoidable. The most common injuries are “slips, trips and faults” which can be prevented by improved control measures such as wet floor and danger signs, training, and a zero-tolerance safety culture.

In higher-risk working areas such as mines and heavy equipment plants, control measures need to be more specific, including routine inspections, training specific to the type of safety requirements in a high-risk area, and the appointment of a supervising officer.

You can find out more about SafetyWallet here.

Brought to you by SafetyWallet.

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