The field of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) already boasts a wealth of career opportunities. Government is now aiming to turn OHS into an even larger industry. With changes planned for South Africa’s OHS Act, the number of job opportunities is expected to rise even further. Here’s how the field is set to grow in 2019 and beyond.
Why is there a need for changes to the OHS Act?
The health and safety of workers should be a priority for all employers. Unfortunately, the Department of Labour has found that many companies do not adhere to the regulations set out in the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Speaking at the Saiosh Health and Safety Conference in 2018, Tibor Szana, Chief OHS Inspector at the Department of Labour, highlighted the need for amendments to the Act.
“There are always companies that want to comply, but there are those that don’t care about their workers. The purpose of the amended Act is to prevent people from getting injured,” Szana said.
In May 2018, Cabinet approved the submission of the Occupational Health and Safety Bill to Parliament, and the Bill is expected to be passed into law after being considered.
What amendments will be made to the Act?
According to Szana, the main purpose of the amendments is to “develop OHS into a fully-fledged industry.” The Bill mainly seeks to align South Africa’s OHS laws with international standards. It will place stricter requirements on employers in terms of following OHS regulations. This will include the development of new risk management plans and taking all measures needed to ensure that the plans are complied with. There will be harsher penalties for companies who do not comply with the regulations.
Health and safety representatives within organisations will also be given increased responsibility for ensuring that all employees are protected from risks in the workplace.
What opportunities will the amendments bring?
One of the outcomes of the amendments will be increased pressure for employers to comply with regulations. This means that there is likely to be a higher demand for employees who work in OHS. These could include safety officers, environmental protection officers, and health and safety managers, amongst many other positions. These employees will play a crucial role in ensuring that all regulations are complied with.
Meanwhile, the new regulations will also bring about an increased level of enforcement and monitoring. These functions are typically performed by professionals such as OHS inspectors and mine examiners, which could lead to a higher demand for professionals who can take on such levels of responsibility.
Szana said that one of the biggest concerns of the current Act is that small, medium and micro-enterprises, as well as the informal sector, are not sufficiently regulated. With OHS regulations now being more strictly enforced in these sectors, you can expect to see more job opportunities opening up.
For a full overview of the careers that could be available to you with an OHS qualification, click here.
Want to take advantage of the growth of OHS by studying towards a career in the field? Explore OHS courses with Oxbridge Academy.
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