Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Fatigue and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act


The Minister of Labour recently issued a notice in terms of section 87(2) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, that has significant implications for Fatigue:
The notice specifically identifies the risks attached to long working hours, shift work and working stress.
The key aspects of the notice include:
  1. That employers must conduct a risk assessment and identify hazards which pose risks for the health of employees...Fatigue provides ongoing risk assessment and the reports we generate can certainly fall under the heading of a risk assessment.
  2. Employers must implement measures to elliminate or control these hazards..Fatigue provides a pro-active measure to do this.
  3. Employers must train and supply information to employees about the risks to their health and safety and the measures to control these...Fatigue provides an early warning signal and if supported by wellness counselling complies.
  4. Employees have a duty to take reasonable steps to protect their own health and safety and that of other employees...Fatigue provides the feedback of poor perceptual alertness which may lead to an accident.

Interesting requirements which are included in the notice...

  • That a Health professional could assess the employee's health (psychological?) at the point of employment and then at regular intervals thereafter.. these assessments may cover psychological problems resulting from adapting to working hours, health problems, emotional or social stressors, insomnia, chronic fatigue, medication, etc.
  • That strategies enabling the employee to cope with these conditions may be provided.
  • That the examination should include educational input and coping strategies (see Fatigue)

Pieter van der Merwe


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