On 9 May 2018, Cabinet approved the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Bill of 2018, which seeks to amend the current legislation, namely the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 85 of 1993.
The long-awaited Bill aims to provide greater protection for workers regarding injuries and diseases at the workplace. The Bill will seek to establish a health and safety management system in line with best practice, aimed at safe systems of work. This would require the carrying out of mandatory risk assessments (such as baseline and issue-based risk assessments) to eliminate, control or minimize the risk of exposure to harm in the workplace.
The Bill has not yet been released for public comment, but this is imminent. Where Cabinet has approved the Bill, the next step is for the Bill to be introduced in Parliament. It will be referred to the Joint Tagging Mechanism for classification. The Bill would then be referred to the relevant Portfolio Committee for consideration. There is likely to be significant public interest in this Bill, so the Portfolio Committee may schedule public hearings to allow for written comments and/or oral submissions on the provisions of the Bill. Thereafter, the Portfolio Committee members would debate the Bill to determine if they are satisfied with it. If not, the Bill is amended to reflect what the Portfolio Committee prefers. It is the task of the Portfolio Committee to submit the Bill with a report to the National Assembly for debate and vote. (This is often referred to as the second reading debate).