Media Release: GRDM acknowledges Safety Representatives for their dedicated and loyal service
For immediate release
29 June 2022
Last week Friday, 24 June 2022, the Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Section was in the spotlight when recognising OHS representatives for their outstanding service rendered to the employer (GRDM). OHS representatives have maintained a consistent, dedicated and compliant-centric approach in the workplace.
The recognition event took place at the George Civic Hall. Approximately 200 employees braved the chilly weather conditions to receive their certificates and witness the proceedings of the event. These representatives are stationed at the head office of GRDM and all satellite offices situated across the Garden Route district.
According to Loyiso Shoto, Human Resources Practitioner for Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) at GRDM, an employer must appoint competent employees to undertake certain work assignments in the organisation as per OHS Act. It was for this reason that the OHS section nominated employees from various departments within the organisation to be appointed as OHS representatives.
Representatives include: Health and Safety Representatives, First Aiders and Fire Wardens.
- Health & Safety Representatives:
OHS Act, Section 17 (2) – Every employer who has more than 20 employees in his employment at any workplace shall, within four months after the commencement of this Act or after commencing business, or from such time the number of employees exceeds 20, as the case may be, designate in writing for a specified period health and safety representatives of such workplace, or for different sections thereof.
- First Aider:
General Safety Regulations 3 (2) – Where more than 10 employees are employed at a workplace, the employer of such employees shall take steps to ensure that for every group of up to 50 employees at the workplace or in case of a shop or office as contemplated in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1993 for every group of up to 100 employees, at least one person is readily available during normal working hours, who is in possession of a valid certificate of competence in first aid.
- Fire Wardens:
Construction Regulations 29 (h) – A contractor must in addition to compliance with the Environmental Regulations for Workplaces, 1987, ensure that –
(h) the fire equipment contemplated in paragraph (g) is inspected by a competent person, who has been appointed in writing for that purpose, in the manner indicated by the manufacturer thereof;
(i) a sufficient number of workers are trained in the use of fire-extinguishing equipment;
Portfolio Chairperson for Corporate Services, Ald. Iona Kritzinger, during her welcoming address to the representatives, councillors and officials who attended the event, praised the Corporate Services Department, under the leadership of Trix Holtzhausen, for their dedication to ensure the respective disciplines are represented across the organisation. To the representatives she highlighted:
“You fulfil this role because you care about your colleagues, you care about the organisation and the health and safety of all of us – we are thankful and appreciate your services to the organisation”.
The GRDM Chairperson for Occupational Health and Safety, Cllr Virgill Gericke, shared words of appreciation to all safety representatives at the event and provided a backround about the OHS function within the municipality and the operations of the OHS Committee. “The committee originates from legislation and was instituted exclusively to ensure that people are safe in the workplace and that they enjoy the privileges and rights of safety and security in the workplace.”
After raising his concerns about other organisations that do not have OHS structures and safety representatives in place, he praised the GRDM for being organised and for having and keeping the OHS function under control. “When you walk into the buildings of the GRDM, it is evident that from the entrance to the exit, that all aspects of OHS are under control and organised when it comes to the safety and security of our personnel”. Adding to this he highlighted: “This is only possible, because we have committed and dedicated personnel who make sure that these functions are performed”. Recalling one day when one of the areas of Pacaltsdorp had no water, he said:
“The moment the Municipal Manager, Monde Stratu was informed about the water issue, he activated trucks within five (5) minutes and soon water was delivered to the area”.
Executive Mayor, Memory Booysen, who handed the certificates over to the top achievers, said: “There are certain sectors within the municipal environment that you hear and see and they are just there having a presence”. He assured them that they have not been forgotten. “The only time you come to mind is when an incident occurs or when a disaster strikes. This is an indication of how important you are to this organisation and to the communities”. Mayor Booysen further made mention of a few examples of incidents that happened in South Africa that furthermore reminded him of the importance of OHS representatives. One such example was the fire that broke out at the Parliament building. When he referred to these incidents he said: “When people in power remember you, they want to through you under the bus, because somebody needs to be blamed”. He continued by saying that when there is a fire, there are numerous questions on what the cause of the fire was and whether safety measures were in place, “only then you are remembered – and that needs to stop!” he said.
Reflecting on these incidents and the OHS representative’s role, Mayor Booysen highlighted and said: “I look at you with different eyes. You might at times feel neglected and feel that you are not noticed, but indeed we do see you and we hear you. Our challenge from today onwards is the question on what we can do better to make sure that you are not just seen and heard of, but that you are also respected”. When he reminded all about one of the worst pandemics the world faced, he said:
“We had a choice to get up or not to get up in the morning, but when the pawpaw hit the fan, you were sent into the high-risk areas. You had to confront Covid-19 face-to-face. You were exposed to the areas that posed a risk, you had to sanitise the buildings – you had to respond. And today, we are here; we sadly lost some of our friends and colleagues, you were not in despair. And for that, we do see you, we hear you, we respect you and we are going to walk the walk with you”.
Wouter Jacobs, Coordinator of Disaster Management, gave an overview of the Covid-19 cases in the district with only two (2) cases of patients that were reported to be in hospital.
Francois Vryburg, Operations Director at SD Recruitment, thanked the GRDM for their partnership for the next three (3) years. He said: “We will assist the GRDM to achieve their vision by ensuring that all employees are healthy and the working environments is safe”.
Nontobeko Klaas, Manager for Human Resources delivered the vote of thanks to particularly the health and safety representatives and said: “It might look as we recognising you only once in a while, but today it is proof or confirmation of our appreciation to you for the excellent job that you have done so far”.
The event was organised by OHS Practitioner, Mr Loyiso Shoto and the programme was directed by Ms Trix Holtshauzen, Executive Manager for Corporate Services responsible for Occupational Health and Safety at GRDM.
The Occupational Health and Safety Representatives at Garden Route District Municipality with the certificates issued to them.