The CEO’s Role in Occupational Health and Safety
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS) stipulates that all employers must provide and maintain a safe and healthy working environment for their employees – including the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Do you know a CEO’s responsibilities?
The South African Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act) has created a standard framework of compliance that governs health and safety issues in enterprises nationwide.
Individual responsibilities apply to every employee in the workplace, including the Chief Executive Officer, who has a primary responsibility to ensure the proper management and welfare of people working in the enterprise.
In the case of a company without a board of directors or a close corporation, the owner of such company or corporation will be deemed to be the CEO. In the case of the State, the head of a department (Director General) is regarded as the CEO.
There can only be one CEO; the act appoints this person as the ”accountable person” for health and safety.
Under Section 16 of the OHS Act, the Chief Executive Officer is charged with certain duties and responsibilities as seen below:
- Ensure proper control of health and safety duties within the organisation
- Provide and maintain a safe, risk-free and healthy work environment for employees
- Delegate when needed any related duties and responsibilities to any person under his control, but not accountability
- Be responsible for the management of occupational health and safety matters
- Familiarise and comply with health and safety statutory requirements stipulated by the Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations
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Section 16(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act appoints the CEO of the business or body corporate as the accountable person responsible to provide and maintain a safe and healthy work environment.
The CEO is seen as the accountable person should employees do not comply with the health and safety workplace regulations.
The CEO may choose to delegate safety and health-related responsibilities to the management of the business or organisation, in which case the appointee will be responsible for proper management of health and safety issues, as indicated in the Act’s Section 16(2).
However, delegation does not mean that the CEO is no longer accountable for upholding its responsibilities defined in the OHS Act. The appointee is, however, legally bound to assist.
To best meet the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations, the CEO and any appointed subordinates should familiarise and comply with the legislation.
The implementation of legal compliance structures inside the organisation is necessary to establish a formal structure and proper assist with the successful delegation of health and safety responsibilities.
An integrated management system (IMS) should define, document, communicate and monitor safety management compliance, regulation and responsibility roles to enable better health and safety practices.
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The Legal Appointments module within the XGRC product range enables the tracking of critical legal information and condition to ensure health and safety compliance throughout the entire organisation.