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How To Get Your Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Certificate

Table of Contents

Introduction

Whether you’re an individual looking to advance your career, or a company aiming to ensure a healthy, safe and prepared work environment, obtaining an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) certificate is an important step. In South Africa, complying with the OHS Act and its requirements not only ensures legal compliance, but also displays and fosters a culture of health, safety and wellbeing for everyone in the workplace. This certificate serves as a testament to you or your company’s commitment to health and safety practices and looking after the wellbeing of all the employees. In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of obtaining your OHS certificate and explain why it’s not just a piece of paper, but a pivotal part of your professional and corporate responsibility.

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Understanding the Occupational Health and Safety Certificate

In South Africa, the OHS act regulates and enforces competent and compliant health and safety workplaces, through the different sections and regulations of the OHS act. It’s designed to protect the health and safety of everyone onsite including, visitors and contractors. Obtaining an OHS certificate represents evidence of the organisation’s understanding, commitment and compliance with the OHS act at the date that the OHS certificate is issued.

 An OHS certificate for an individual indicates that the individual has attended an accredited Health and Safety Officer course and has successfully obtained the required OHS knowledge and practical skills. An individual with an OHS certificate such as Health and Safety Officer, can then also assist companies and organisations in implementing elements of OHS and strive to achieve a positive OHS status.  

 First Aid and Safety Training (FAFST) and its OHS practitioners can assist companies with implementing successful OHS management systems. Once the organisation is in an OHS compliant status, then the OHS certificate can be issued. FAFST and their OHS practitioners have OHS accreditations and certifications and are also registered with SAIOSH (South African Institute of Occupational Safety and Health).

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The Path to Obtaining an OHS Certificate

The OHS certificate can be issued by FAFST after they have assisted the company in implementing their OHS management system and the company has been assessed and at the time of assessment, met the necessary criteria and requirements required by the OHS act. Here’s how a company can work towards acquiring an OHS certificate:

  1. Conduct an OHS Compliance Assessment: Contact FAFST to perform the assessment and determine your current percentage level of compliance with the OHS Act. This involves an evaluation of your company’s current health and safety system in place.
  1. Identify Areas for Improvement: The compliance assessment will highlight areas where the company may be falling short from an OHS system perspective. There may be sections of the OHS act that have not been addressed or implemented, or there may be a shortfall on OHS training and equipment requirements etc.   
  2. Implement Necessary Changes: Based on the assessment, make the necessary changes to your OHS system such as the policies and procedures, safety practises, practical skills and overall management system. Developing an OHS plan to address these gaps is crucial from an OHS compliance perspective, as well as moving forward in the OHS certification process.
  3. Engage with an accredited OHS Service Provider: Partner with an accredited OHS service provider who can guide you through the compliance process, offering expertise in areas such as OHS management, training and equipment supply services. FAFST can assist with all these company compliance implementation requirements.
  4. Documentation and Verification: All OHS related policies, appointments, assessments, training certificates, processes need to be recorded and available for review and assessment by an appropriately qualified OHS organisation and practitioner. 
  5. Receive Your OHS Certificate: Once compliance is re-assessed and achieved your OHS service provider can issue an Occupational Health and Safety certificate – “This certificate serves to confirm that a legal compliance assessment was conducted on FAFST Pty Ltd and was found to be compliant with the OHS act 85 of 1993 on 01 June 2024”.

Keep in mind that the OHS certificate is not a permanent status. Regular reviews and updates to safety practices are necessary to maintain compliance, as company changes or OHS Act updates may affect your OHS status. Ensuring that your company is operating in accordance with the OHS act is not only about achieving and showcasing an OHS certificate, it’s about consistently upholding the highest OHS standards and committing to the wellbeing of everyone involved in your company’s operations.

The Importance of OHS Compliance

Having an OHS compliant workplace also showcases a positive and caring management team who have a proactive approach towards prioritising and creating a healthy and safe workplace.

Companies with staff and the OHS team holding OHS certificates such as first aid, firefighting, evacuation planning can also respond more effectively to emergencies, reducing the risk of damage and injury. This preparedness is critical not only for the safety of employees but also for the legal and financial wellbeing of the company. Should an incident occur, the Department of Employment and Labour (DOEL) will inspect the work site, and the last thing any organisation wants is to be found lacking in compliance.

Non-compliance can lead to severe consequences, including notices from DOEL, potential halts in production, criminal charges, hefty fines, or even jail time for those found criminally negligent. Beyond the legal implications, there’s the matter of reputation. A business known for poor safety practices can suffer in both customer and employee trust, which can have negative long-term financial repercussions.

In addition, holding a health and safety certificate in South Africa indicates that the organisation understands the risks specific to their environment and has strategies in place to mitigate them. This not only safeguards against potential legal action but also ensures the continuity of business operations and the safety of all involved. An OHS certificate in South Africa can also create a competitive advantage, demonstrating to clients and partners that the company is a responsible and safe choice to do business with. It reflects a level of professionalism and dedication that goes beyond the minimum requirements, which can be a decisive factor in today’s competitive markets.

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Ready to Start Your OHS Compliance Journey?

If you’re ready to commit to the safety and wellbeing of your workplace, then it’s time to take the first step towards obtaining your OHS certificate. First Aid, Fire and Safety Training can assist you with an OHS Compliance Assessment, which is the foundation of this journey. By visiting our OHS Management Services page, you can book a comprehensive assessment to evaluate your current compliance level and identify the necessary steps to achieve a safer workplace. Let’s work together to ensure your company leads the way in occupational health and safety.

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