The Provincial Treasury established a Health and Safety Committee which advise and support the Head of Department to provide and maintain a work environment that is safe and without risk to the health of employees. The committee meet at least once per quarter to discuss health and safety issues which impacts staff and visitors to the Provincial Treasury.
We spoke to Ruzelle Julie who is the Acting Chairperson of the Health and Safety committee to “de-mistify” the functions of the committee.
Q: Ruzelle, as Acting Chairperson, what is your main objective.
A: The Health and Safety Committee renders a valuable service to the Head of Department and to staff in general – the health and safety of our staff and visitors are our top priority and therefore we want to raise awareness of the functions of the committee and some of the matters the committee is actively working on to ensure a safe work environment.
Q: What functions does the Committee perform?
A: The Committee make recommendations to the Head of Department on any matter that affects the health and safety of persons at Provincial Treasury premises. It also deals with injuries on duty, where staff become ill or die as direct result of health and safety conditions at the workplace. It also liaise with inspectors and ensure that Provincial Treasury complies with the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1993.
Q: What are the current health and safety concerns and what pro-active measures has been implemented to resolve these?
A: Office temperatures at 15 Wale Street and 4 Dorp Street has been on the radar of the Committee for quite some time and the HOD is actively involved in addressing this with the Department of Transport and Public Works. In summer-time the temperature at these offices are very high while the opposite happens in winter. It does not only inconvenience staff members but also pose a serious health risk. To resolve this, a chiller and dry cooler installation was completed while the installation of a second chiller is due before the end of July.
- Bad smell from bathrooms on the 2nd floor at 4 Dorp Street has been reported. This is due to the current bathroom renovations. Our senior management has met with Transport and Public Works to address the issue.
- False alarms at 4 Dorp Street is also a major concern. The alarms are there to give staff warnings to evacuate the building in the event of an immediate danger. When an alarm is activated, staff need to evacuate the building in order to ensure staff safety and determine the exact danger. Unfortunately false alarms may cause people to be hesitant to evacuate and we urge staff to always follow the instructions of marshalls – it is for your own safety and we must ensure that there are no real danger.
Q: What more can we expect from you as the Acting Chairperson?
A: I want to raise more awareness of Occupational Health and Safety issues to encourage PT staff to work with us to ensure a safe work environment. We will therefore be sharing more information with staff with regards to the active role the committee plays in addressing health and safety issues.
We will also start to introduce the committee members to staff. If staff are aware who their representatives are, they can easily report issues and reduce the time it takes to resolve these.
Another key objective is to strengthen the relationship with Transport and Public Works who are responsible for the maintenance of the building in order to minimize risk in the working environment. This is a strategic partnership and we rely on their support to maintain a safe working environment.
Q: Final thoughts?
A: I want to thank all the committee members for their hard work and dedication towards creating a safe work environment. The committee members offer a lot of their personal time as well to ensure that they still fulfill their “day jobs”.
I also want to thank the outgoing Chairperson, Annamarie Smit. Annamarie together with the committee started a number of initiatives before I joined the committee and it is now starting to come to the front and I cannot claim recognition for this – I must recognise the excellent work done by Annamarie and the committee.
SAFETY STARTS WITH YOU!