Employee safety rights

Every worker is entitled to a safe and healthy work environment. As legislated by the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1993 (OHSA)
February 10, 2022 by
Employee safety rights

Employee's Safety Rights in the Workplace:

Every worker is entitled to a safe and healthy work environment. As legislated by the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1993 (OHSA), an employer must provide and maintain, as far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of workers and to take such steps as to eliminate or mitigate the hazard or potential hazard. The OHSA is an attempt by the government to provide and maintain a safe and healthy work environment for all. An employer must provide and maintain plants and systems and work procedures that are safe and without risk to workers’ health.
Every employee has rights afforded to them by the OHSA. It is essential to know your rights as an employee to protect you from abuse and exploitation.

Right to information:

Employees may request their employer inform them about the health and safety hazards in the workplace.

Every worker must have access to:

Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations
The health and safety rules and procedures of the workplace
The health and safety standards that the employer has to keep in the workplace
The preventative measures which are to be taken
The processes that must be followed if a worker is exposed to substances hazardous to their health
A worker may also request that their private doctor investigate their medical and exposure records. If the worker is a Health and Safety Representative (SHE Rep), they may investigate and comment on exposure assessments and monitoring reports in writing.
Right to protection:
Employers are required by legislation to provide workers involved in hazardous work with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). The PPE should be free of charge to workers. The cost of PPE should not be deducted from the employee’s pay.

Right to training:

An employer is required by law to provide proper training, instruction and supervision for employers to conduct their jobs safely. Every worker is to be trained on the work they are supposed to perform, any article or substance they have to produce, process or transport and any machinery they are supposed to operate.

Right to participate in inspections:

The SHE Rep may accompany the health and safety inspector from the Department of Labour during an inspection of the workplace and answer any questions the inspector may ask.

Right to comment on legislation and make representations:

An employee may comment on or make representations on any regulation or safety standard published in terms of the OHSA.

Right to Appeal:

Any employer or employee can appeal against the decision of an inspector.

Right not to be victimised:

An organisation cannot dismiss an employee, dock an employee’s salary or reduce an employee’s service conditions because:
The employee supplied information, which is required of them in terms of the Act, to someone charged with the administration of the OHSA.
The employee complied with a lawful notice
The employee did something required of them by the OHSA.
The employee did not do something which the Act prohibits.
The employee has given evidence before the Labour Court or Court of Law on matters regarding health and safety.

Remember, you have the right to be safe at work. Health and safety involves all workforce levels, from top to bottom. Let us all work towards a safe and healthy work environment!