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What GCC factories candidates and professionals need to know about the new ergonomics regulations

Updated: May 11, 2023

On 6 December 2019, the Minister of Employment and Labour promulgated the ergonomics regulations under Government Notice R.1589.


Ergonomics regulations, 2019
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Explanatory notes to the Ergonomics Regulations 2019
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The GCC factories candidate may need to consider the new regulation when preparing for the GCC factories exams and review compliance in their work areas. The GCC factories professional may need to check their procedures & checklists to ensure compliance with the new ergonomics regulations.


In short, the ergonomics regulations are essential for both the GCC factories candidate and professional.


Here are the four essential elements of the new ergonomics regulations, 2019:


1. Scope of application


The first question that a GCC Factories professional needs to ask is, "do these regulations apply to my factory?" Like many regulations, the scope is broad that it could very well apply to your factory.


The Ergonomics regulations apply to any employer or self-employed person who carries work at a workplace, which may expose any person to ergonomic risks in that workplace; and a designer, manufacturer, importer or supplier of machinery, plant or work system for use at a workplace.

That was a month full. In short, these regulations apply for all workplaces. The employer (or self-employed person) and the other stakeholders are responsible for ensuring compliance with the regulations.


2. What you need to comply with?


The high-level view of what you need to comply with includes the following:

  • Information, instruction, and training - The employer needs to inform employees of ergonomics risks at the workplace. A training programme needs to be developed and delivered to employees.

  • Ergonomics risk assessment - The employer must ensure a compilation of an ergonomics risk assessment before commencing with work. The GCC factories professionals may need to review their existing risk assessments to incorporate ergonomics requirements.

  • Risk control measures - The employer or self-employed person shall prevent ergonomics risk. The GCC factories professional will need to take the risk assessment results and ensure sufficient controls to manage the risks identified.

  • Medical surveillance - Employees exposed to ergonomics risk need to undergo medical surveillance.

  • Maintenance of controls - The employer needs to implement ergonomics control measures and maintain control measures in good working order.

  • Records - The employer must keep ergonomics risk assessment and employee medical surveillance records for a minimum period of 40 years. The employer must keep risk control and maintenance of control records for three years. The employer must keep training records for the length of time the employee remains at the workplace.


Pro-tips for GCC factories candidates:

  • You will realise that the aligned with the basic structure of the employer's duties as stipulated under Section 8 of the OHS Act. You can get our GCC factories OHS Act books for a detailed description of the "basic structure."

  • Training content requirements are worded similarly to the other regulations where training is required. So, save time during studying by understanding the essential elements of the training content by employers. Check out our study material for a discussion on this matter.



3. Duties of various stakeholders


The ergonomics regulations stipulated duties for the following stakeholders:

  • Persons who may be at risk of exposure to ergonomic risks - The duties stated here are very similar to employees' responsibilities at the workplace, as stipulated in Section 14 of the OHS Act. In short, employees must use measures put in place by the employer, cooperate with the employer, report ergonomics risks, report to medical surveillance, and ensure they attend the employer's contemplated ergonomics training.

  • Designers, manufacturers, importers, and suppliers - I imagine that these stakeholders need to think beyond machinery's technical function. The requirements for these stakeholders are broad. For example, "machinery systems that are optimised for human well-being" may mean one thing to another from person-to-person. So, I imagine other SANS standards will further clarify, or existing rules for other various machinery may be updated to include specific ergonomic requirements.


What about the duties of the employer? Well, point 2 covers the employer's obligations.


4. Yet another committee that needs to established by the Chief Inspector


Ergonomics Regulation 11(1) requires that the Chief Inspector establish the Ergonomics Health and Safety Technical Committee.


I sometimes feel for the Chief Inspector. The last I checked, there are about seven committees the Chief Inspector needs to establish. The Chief Inspector must ensure that each committee complies with its mandate.


The establishment of the committee may or may not be necessary for the GCC factories candidate. A possible exam question might be to list the people who need to form part of the committee.


As for GCC factories professional, you need to know that this committee exists and is not surprised when summoned.


Conclusion


The essential elements of the new Ergonomics Regulations are:

  • Scope of application

  • What GCC factories professionals and candidates need to comply with

  • Duties of various stakeholders such as the employer, employees, designers, manufacturers, importers, and suppliers.

  • The establishment of the Ergonomics Health and Safety Technical Committee

For the GCC factories candidate, the Ergonomics Regulations are relatively short and should be easy to remember for the GCC factories OHS Act exam.


For the GCC factories professionals (GMR2 appointees), it is essential to review procedures, policies, checklists, risk assessments, and control measures to ensure compliance with the regulations.


I feel that some of the regulations' provision is broad and may be somewhat open to interpretation. I think establishing specific SANS standards may help for persons with little experience of ergonomics considerations in design.


The Ergonomics Regulations explanatory notes do, however, state that "Where possible, SANS standards must be taken into account." I would think that some SANS regulations maybe need to be updated to include a section on ergonomics considerations.


Lastly, I found it interesting to see the shift from using 'shall' to using 'must.' I think the use of 'shall' compared to 'must' is a matter of semantics.


Overall, I am not entirely sure why promulgate separate ergonomics regulations instead of including the ergonomics section under the General Safety Regulations?


Your thoughts?

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