The new Ergonomics Regulations, in terms of section 43 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993, were published by the Minister of Employment and Labour in the Government Gazette on the 6th of December 2019.
According to The South African Labour Guide, these new regulations will focus on a programme approach to managing the physical and cognitive ergonomics in the workplace and will apply to:
- Employers or self-employed persons who carries out work at a workplace which may expose any person to physical or cognitive risk factors in that workplace;
- A person who designs, manufactures, erects, installs or supplies machinery, equipment or articles for use at work.
What is Ergonomics?
According to the International Ergonomics Association, “Ergonomics is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimise human well-being and overall system performance.”
To put it simply, ergonomics is the process of designing or arranging workplaces, products and systems so that they fit the people who use them. The goal of ergonomics is to create a safe, comfortable and productive workspaces by bringing human abilities and limitations into the design of a workspace.
What do you need to know about the new regulations? Here are some key points.
Implement an Ergonomics Programme
As part of your existing health and safety programme, employers need to implement an ergonomics programme, which will help protect the health and safety of any person exposed to ergonomic risk in the workplace.
Train Your Employees
Employers need to educate all employees and contractors about the basics of ergonomics, including what the risks are and what procedures have been implemented to address ergonomic related issues.
As far as possible, designers, manufacturers, importers or suppliers need to ensure that machinery, plant or work systems optimise human well-being and overall system performance.
Implement Risk Controls
An employer or self-employed person must, as far as is reasonably practicable, remove or reduce exposure to ergonomic risks by implementing control measures in accordance with the hierarchy of controls.
Implement Medical Surveillance
A medical surveillance programme needs to be in place to ensure that ergonomic related injuries/diseases are monitored and tracked. This programme must be overseen by an occupational medical practitioner. The surveillance is three part, firstly an initial, periodic and exit health examination.
What are Ergonomic Risk Factors?
Job activities involving any of the ergonomic risk factors below may contribute to or result in an increased risk of strain and injury.
- Awkward postures
- Compression or contact stress
- Forceful exertions
- Insufficient rest breaks
- Pushing, pulling
- Repetitive motions
- Static or sustained postures
- Temperature extremes
If you need any advice on how to go about implementing the new Regulations into the workplace, feel free to contact us! To view the new Regulations in full, click here.