SAFETY, HEALTH, ENVIRONMENT AND QUALITY DIVISION
SEIFSA provides comprehensive and professional safety, health, environment and quality consultancy services to member companies – offering practical advice, guidance and training on all issues, including workmen’s compensation claims and implementation of legal requirements. In light of the recently published ISO 9001: 2015 and ISO 14001: 2015, the division also implements the new standards and offers advice on transitioning to the latest versions.
In addition to offering training and consultancy services, the division also lobbies extensively in various national forums on behalf of the industry. These forums include the Advisory Council for Occupational Health and Safety, National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), Advisory Committee for the Compensation Commissioner for Occupational Diseases, and the Department of Environmental Affairs industry forums. Some of the engagements are directly with various stakeholders in government, organised business and organised labour.
Amendments to COIDA
Nedlac deliberations on the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Disease Act (COIDA) Amendment Bill began in July 2017 and were concluded in April 2018. The purpose of the amendments is to provide for the rehabilitation, re-integration and return to work of injured employees, to regulate the use of health care facilities and to also regulate compliance and enforcement.
Generally, the draft amendments seek to increase compensation benefits and improve service delivery. The business position was, in summary, as follows:
the extension of compensation cover should not have excessive economic impact on assessment fees payable by the employer to the Compensation Fund; and
administrative fines should not be based on an employer’s turnover, but rather on the financial loss caused by the non-compliance, as well as the adverse impact on the health of the affected employee(s).
a. Extension of Scope of Benefits
In terms of extension of cover, two key matters have been flagged by business:
i. The introduction of the concept of “no-fault basis” effected by the removal of “serious willful misconduct”. In the current Act, employees who are injured due to willful misconduct such as being under the influence of alcohol or refusal to apply health and safety measures are in principle not covered by COIDA; and
ii. In the event of an accident while travelling to and from work currently employees are only covered by COIDA if:
the vehicle used by the employee is provided by the employer for such purposes;
the vehicle is driven by the employer or by one of the employees and
if such a vehicle is provided free of charge.
According to the current wording of the draft amendment bill, employees would be covered travelling to and from work, regardless of their mode of transport.
Business argued that the above circumstances are outside of the control of an employer i.e. an employer cannot anticipate or control serious willful misconduct or the risk posed by the choice of transport made by employees. This would have a significant impact on the frequency of claims, the risk rating of the employer and, most importantly, the assessment fees payable to the Compensation Fund by the employer.
b. Determination of Fines
The proposal by the Government was that the commission of certain administrative non-compliances would attract a fine of up to 10% of the previous year’s turnover. Even though there was no agreement on this Issue, business maintained that:
Any prescribed fine/penalty should be a defined amount (not a % of an unknown amount)
Any fine/penalty should be capped (have a maximum of “up to”).
Penalties should be imposed by a Court of law (if an employer is found guilty of an offence).
There is no set date by which the draft bill will be published for comment, however, the general sentiment is that it might be after the 2019 presidential elections. The revised Bill incorporating public comments will be re- tabled at Nedlac before it is finalized.
UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE
National Health Insurance
The National Health Insurance Bill was published for comment on 21 June 2018 and comments were to be submitted by 21 September 2018. Two of the major areas of concern are:
a. The cost of NHI
The cost of NHI is unknown, to date- government has not produced any financial modelling to demonstrate its cost and sustainability. Some economics experts have warned that this uncertainty is likely to deter international investment and adversely affect economic growth.
The government’s track record in State-owned entities has been negative over the years and a centralisation of health funding is a cause for concern. According to the NHI Bill, the Fund will become the public purchaser and the sole financier of health.
b. Mandatory prepayments
During his public announcement, the Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi spoke of income cross subsidisation i.e. rich subsidising the poor. The NHI public campaign flyer outlines the following funding sources:
Employees earning above a certain amount will be required by law to contribute
Employers will assist the NHI Fund by ensuring that their NHI contributions are collected and submitted, in a similar way as UIF contribution
Employers will match their employee’s contribution to NHI
Surprisingly the NHI Bill is silent on employer and employee contributions and leaves one to assume its covered in the “monies to which the Fund may become legally entitled to”. (After the promulgation of the NHI and Medical Aid Fund Bill- 11 more pieces of legislations will be introduced or amended in order to bring some of the NHI requirements into effect)
While Nedlac discussions continue, Business Unity South Africa (BUSA’s) NHI Hybrid Research Project is underway. The research results will form a solid base for argument against the viability of NHI as currently proposed.
SHEQ COMPLIANCE SERVICES
SEIFSA’s SHEQ Division assists member companies in meeting the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act and other safety, health, environment and quality legislation. The SEIFSA SHEQ division guides companies in addressing safety, health, environment and quality issues at the workplace and thereby protecting management from vicarious liability and criminal prosecution.
The Division offers an audit programme which includes the following:
An annual audit;
The provision of the administrative documentation required to ensure that the mandatory administrative requirements are observed;
A written report identifying and addressing areas of non-compliance and, where necessary, specific recommendations for action by management; and
The formulation of an implementation plan to assist in the achievement and maintenance of full and proper legal compliance.
SHEQ LEGAL ADVISORY SERVICE
SEIFSA provides a comprehensive range of consultancy and advisory services to member companies on safety, health, environment and quality issues, including:
General health and safety legal advice and assistance;
Interpretation and advice on occupational health and safety legislation;
Interpretation and advice on workmen’s compensation legislation;
Formulation and implementation of company level health and safety management systems and procedures;
Incident investigations and reporting; and
Legal compliance guidance and auditing.
SEIFSA presents a comprehensive range of practical safety, health, environment and quality training courses, seminars and workshops aimed at all levels of management. These courses were run during the year on an in-house basis and also as public sessions and include:
Health and Safety Representatives
ISO 9001: 2015, IS0 14001: 2015, and ISO 45001 Awareness
Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act.
Basic Safety Induction and HIV/Aids Awareness.
Introduction to Occupational Health and Safety Act for Management.
Other services include risk assessments on tasks, machines, processes and equipment; incident investigation; the development of safe work procedures, and fire risk surveys.
The SHEQ Executive lobbies on behalf of the membership on the following platforms:
Advisory Council for Occupational Health and Safety: Advises the Minister on occupational health and safety matters;
Technical Committee 7: Hazardous Chemical Substances: Advises the Chief Inspector on HCS- related matters (at date of publication reviewing Asbestos, Lead and HCS Regulations);
Iron and Steel Sector Forum: Promotion of health and safety in the sector and formulation of best practices;
NEDLAC: Representing and protecting the interests of business in engagements with Government and Labour;
• BUSA: Represent the industry in engagements with business on all policies affecting Occupational Health and Environment;
Advisory Council for the Compensation Commissioner for Occupational Disease (CCOD): Advises the Compensation Commissioner on compensation matters;
Steering Committee for Integration of Compensation Systems: Engagements aimed at integrating or improving compensation systems under COIDA and ODMWA;
DEA Waste Management Forum: Engagements on proposed amendments to Environmental Legislation.
In addition, the division is closely monitoring developments in relation to the National Clean Production Centre on Energy Efficiency in order to ensure that members benefit from various funded programmes; and is also monitoring the Government’s implementation of the National Strategy on Climate Change Mitigation.
The SHEQ division will continue to play an active advocacy role in representing the views of business on various platforms, lobby relevant Government departments, influence amendments to existing legislation and/ or the introduction of new legislation affecting the health and safety of workers in the industry and strengthen enforcement regulations aimed at reducing fatalities and injuries in the metals and engineering industries.
Safety, Health, Environment, Quality Executive