24 May 2021 by and Employment Law Alert

Attention employers: The Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Bill of 2020

Minister of Employment and Labour, Thembelani Nxesi, has given notice for his intention to introduce an Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Bill of 2020. The Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Bill is intended to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993. However, the Bill does not yet allow for public comment at this stage.

According to the General Explanatory Summary and Note, the Amendment Bill intends to delete, substitute and insert certain definitions, effect certain technical corrections, make further provisions in respect of the health and safety of persons at work and the health and safety of persons in connection with the use of plant and machinery, further regulate the protection of persons other than persons at work against hazards to health and safety arising out of or in connection with the activities of persons at work and further regulate the composition of an advisory council for occupational health and safety. Although the Occupational Healthy and Safety Bill 2020 will not be an entirely new Act, these substantial changes will without a doubt affect all employers.

The most relevant example out of the many amendments, insertions and substitutions made in terms of the Amendment Bill for employers relates to non-compliance with the Principle Act in terms of occupational health and safety. It is notable that non-compliance can have a negative impact, including death, loss of income and disability, to mention but a few. It is therefore of utmost importance for employers to comply with occupational health and safety legislation to reduce work-related injuries. In line with this, the Bill seeks to increase penalties in respect of fines for employers who are guilty of an offense in terms of the Principle Act. The fines seek to be increased from R50,000 to R100,000 in terms of the substitution made in terms of Section 38(2) of the of the Principle Act. The Bill also seeks to clarify and introduce new administrative fines and legal liabilities for non-compliance in terms of newly introduced sections 37A-37F.

More information on the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Bill may be found here or here. It is important to note, however, that the Bill still needs to undergo the relevant approval processes and the above intended changes may not be final.

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