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OSAB: The Occupational Safety Advice Bureau



A Bridge under construction in Northern  Province Collapsed:  The OHS Act: What happens now?

On 6 July 1998 a bridge under construction collapsed killing 14 persons and seriously injuring 15.
The incident is still being investigated and the outcome will not be known for some time, but in the mean time, let us see what the OHS Act has to say in this regard:
Section 10 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act 85 of 1993) states that:
Any person who designs an article, including a bridge, road or a machine, must ensure that the article is safe, as far as is reasonably practicable, when properly used and that it complies with all rules and regulations.
If the article is designed for another person who undertakes in writing to make sure that, as far as is reasonably practical, the article will be used safely and that all rules and regulations will be complied with, that undertaking will relieve the designer of his responsibility.
This seems to hold the consulting engineer who designed the bridge responsible for the accident unless the undertaking in writing was given by the contractor or the authority that placed the order for the bridge.
Section 37 of the OHS Act states that
whenever an employee, including a consulting engineer, or a contractor (mandatary) does anything that would be an offence if the employer had done it, the employer shall be presumed to have committed the offence. The employer shall then be sentenced unless it is proved that:-
(a) the employee or mandatary was acting without connivance or permission of the employer and
(b) it was not within the scope of authority of the employee or mandatary to act and
(c) the employer has taken all reasonable steps to prevent the offence.
The fact that the employer issued instructions forbidding the offence shall not be accepted as sufficient proof that he took all reasonable steps to prevent the offence.
This provision shall not apply in the case of a consulting engineer or contractor (mandatary), if the mandatary has agreed in writing that he will comply with this Act.
In terms of this Section the Authority placing the order for the bridge can be held responsible for the accident unless the consulting engineer and the contractor has agreed, in writing, to comply with the Act.

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Services rendered by OSAB


1.   Half day,  full day and two day courses as well as courses in the evenings and on Saturdays

for: Engineers,  Managers,  Contractors, Supervisors and Health and Safety Representatives on the:

2.   One hour Workshops on:

3.   Safety Audits of Workplaces.

4.   Advice to Employers and Consulting Engineers on drawing up Contracts bearing Occupational  Health and Safety in Mind.

William Cronjé Tel: 012 46 3719

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What Participants like about OSAB Courses


Computerised Documentation Systems

The OHS Act, COID Act and many others on your PC give you easy access to the Law
as well as draft letters of appointment and assignment.

For a free demonstration phone: William Cronjé T (012) 46 3719

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