On Thursday, 07 May 2014, pre-eminent specialist attorneys from ENSafrica conducted their annual seminar at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg (in conjunction with LexisNexis) to discuss legal principles and developments in occupational health and safety law. The attorneys and speakers at the seminar were Willem Le Roux and Pieter Colyn (directors and joint heads of the Mine and Occupational Health and Safety Department at ENSafrica) and Celeste Coles and Warren Hendricks, both directors in the aforementioned department. A number of topics were discussed, with the speakers and delegates interacting and considering certain industry practices.

Willem le Roux provided an explanation of the scope of application of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, No. 85 of 1993 ("the OHASA") and the Mine Health and Safety Act, No. 29 of 1996 ("the MHSA")), as well as the National Railway Safety Regulator Act that applies to railways. Willem explained that this Act may apply in addition to either the OHASA or the MHSA and does not substitute such legislation. Willem also highlighted a number of proposed amendments to the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, No. 130 of 1993 and the effect that such proposed amendments (if promulgated) would have on all industries, if implemented.

Pieter Colyn provided a comprehensive presentation in respect of the safety criterion prescribed in terms of the OHASA, and the steps to be taken to facilitate compliance with the obligation to ensure a workplace is safe as far as "reasonably practicable". Pieter also discussed the elements which must be proven in respect of the criminal transgression of culpable homicide with particular focus on the concept of the "reasonable person". Pieter emphasised the importance of the preparation of appropriate mandatary agreements in terms of section 37 of the OHASA, to limit the legal exposure of an "employer" to potential criminal liability for the criminal conduct of an employee, agent, contractor or sub-contractor. Celeste Coles discussed the importance of legal appointments in terms of the OHASA and debated, amongst others, practical considerations of appointment structures.

The remaining topics covered during the seminar, delved into the obligations as envisaged in the Construction Regulations, 2014 ("the Construction Regulations"), which regulations are binding in terms of the OHASA. Celeste emphasised that the Regulations apply only to "construction work". For that reason it is important to analyse and understand the very extensive definition of "construction work".Warren Hendricks discussed the primary and additional obligations imposed on the client, principal contractor and the contractor in terms of the Construction Regulations, and the health and safety management system that should be put in place to ensure compliance with such obligations.

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