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Occupational Health and Safety Beyond the Risk Register

Most businesses have found themselves crippled by Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) non-compliance cases; or irreparably damaged by tragedies that could have been avoidable.

Most businesses have found themselves crippled by Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) non-compliance cases; or irreparably damaged by tragedies that could have been avoidable.

The human, social and economic costs of occupational accidents, injuries and diseases have long been the cause for concern at all levels at the workplace. Measures and strategies designed to prevent, control, reduce or eliminate occupational hazards and risks have been developed and applied continuously over the years to keep pace with technological and economic changes. Yet, occupational accidents and diseases are still too frequent and their cost in terms of human suffering and economic burden continues to be significant.

According to the 2020/21 Department of Employment and Labour Annual Report, the compensation claims made in relation to OHS in 2019/20 were 82,526 amounting to approximately R3230832373. Inthescrambleforincome,the pressures of increasingly stiff competition due to Covid 19 impact, may tend to deflect the attention from the long-term economic benefits of a safe and healthy working environment.

Some of the most common occupational health and safety hazards in the Gaming industry include:

  • Second-hand smoke in casinos (smoking areas), which may increase the risk of lung and breast cancer, amongst others.
  • Burns – In casinos, burns most commonly occur in preparation or delivery of foods, beverages, or oils since liquid or steam at only 68°C can burn or scald the skin.
  • Violence and threat to personal safety – Patrons may become aggressive and agitated toward the staff or other players, potentially leading
    to assaults and other threats to personal safety.
  • Theft & Robberies – Casinos also frequently have large amounts of money onsite increasing the risk of robberies and threaten personal safety.

FIG 1. Duties & Responsibilities: OHSA

Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 in South Africa

Due to injuries within the workplace, and the increase of litigation and responsibilities of employers, businesses are required by law to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993. The purpose of the Act is to provide for the health and safety of persons at work and for the health and safety of persons in connection with the use of plant and machinery, as well as 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. With this comes duties and responsibilities for everyone in the workplace as highlighted in fig 1 Above.

Tone at the top, Tune in the middle, Rhythm on the dance floor

Top management has the ultimate responsibility
for the OHS programme in the organisation. Total commitment on the part of top management to making OHS a priority is essential to a successful OHS programme. It is only when management plays a positive role that workers view such programmes as a worthwhile and sustainable exercise. The boardroom has the influence, power and resources to take initiatives and to set the pattern for a safe and healthy working environment.

Middle management and supervisors are obviously the key individuals in such programmes because they are in constant contact with the employees. As safety officers, they act in a staff capacity to help administer safety policy, to provide technical information, to help with training and to supply programme material. Employees participation within the organisation is an essential element of prevention of accidents and diseases. Workers should, while performing their work, cooperate in order to enable their employer to fulfil their obligations. Employee participation has been identified as a key precondition of successful OHS management and a major contributing factor in the reduction of occupational diseases and injuries. The full participation of workers in any OHS programmes designed for their benefit will not only ensure the efficacy of such measures but will also make it possible to sustain an acceptable level of health and safety at a reasonable cost.

In conclusion, OHS management should not be treated as a separate process but be integrated into other workplace activities. Its functions and procedures should be embedded in other management system and business processes. Penalties for failure to comply with the prescripts of the OHS Act include fines and imprisonment with a criminal record. It is important to know that where non-compliance leads to injury or a casualty, the employer could be held liable. There are several challenges which may be faced in implementing, promoting, and maintaining health and safety compliance i.e., costs, resources etc, but once the necessary steps are taken to ensure a healthy and safe working environment, there are numerous benefits which can be reaped by both employers and employees, in the form of reduced illness related costs, increased productivity & revenue, and consequently creation of a health and safety culture.

• Compensation Fund Annual Report 2019/20
• Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993

Author: Nobuhle Ndlovu is a Risk Specialist
at GRIPP Advisory with over 10 years’ Risk Management experience in the Financial Services industry.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Risk Management (Wits University), and a Post Graduate Diploma in Internal Audit (UNISA).

A member of the South African Institute of Risk Management (IRMSA), and a Graduate member of the South African Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (SAIOSH)

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