SA Department of Labour inspectors host a Hazardous Biological Agents 2014 seminar in Bela Bela on September 26 to raise compliance to OHS Act regulations.
The DOL Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) advocates and enforces the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and its Regulations for Hazardous Biological Agents, which are defined as “any micro-organism, cell culture or human endo-parasite, including any which have been genetically modified, which may cause an infection, allergy or toxicity, or otherwise create a hazard to human health”.
There are mainly four sources of infection from biological agents:
 Blood and other body fluids such as saliva (spittle), sweat
 Human waste such as faeces, urine, vomit
 Respiratory discharges such as coughs and sneezes
 Skin to skin contact.
Employers must at least have a risk assessment strategy; identify hazards; assess risks; and mange major or frequent risks.
Employers must also consider supplementary controls; security; access; disinfection; disposal procedures; information; training; control points; handling incidents; emergency planning; medical surveillance; labeling; packaging; transporting; storage.
The seminar will be addressed by Department of Labour officials;
Deputy Director-General of IES, Thobile Lamati
 Director: Occupational Health and Hygiene (OHH), Milly Ruiters
 Deputy Director: OHH, Jabu Mhlope
 Manager: Health and Hygiene, Bulelwa Huna
 Deputy Director: Health and Hygiene, Elize Lourens.
 National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH)
 An Approved Inspection Authority (AIA), Geozone.
DOL trains shop stewards
The Seminar will be preceded by a one-day training on September 25 of shop stewards on matters of HBA Regulations; OHS Act; Chemical Stressors Regulations; Physical Stressors Regulations; Machinery Regulations; and reporting of injuries and diseases.
Topics will focus on OHS, health and safety compliance in public hospitals; the vision of National health; cross contamination and infection control; medical surveillance and biological monitoring; waste management in public hospitals; monitoring and control of the working environment.
These agents are divided into various groups, including those that are unlikely to cause human disease, and those that can cause severe human disease, such as Ebola, and others found in untreated sewage.
Certain micro-organisms can cause disease and employees may be exposed to them at work. In health care institutions, patients and workers may spread and contract biological agents.
The theme of the DOL Bio-Haz seminar is ‘improving OHS in the Health Sector’. It will be held in Bela Bela, at the Aventura Resort in Limpopo from 8:30am.
Employers have legal duties
Legal responsibility for health and safety at work rests primarily with employers. It is their responsibility to maintain a management framework to ensure compliance with health and safety laws.
The OHS Act provides that “every employer shall provide and maintain, as far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of their employees”.
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