The Department of Labour (DOL) has named the City of Cape Town an Approved Inspection Authority (AIA) to perform occupational hygiene work. This makes it the only municipality in the country to hold the certification, and helps to fulfil the City’s commitment to being a Well-run City.
The DOL presented the certificate to Occupational Health & Safety & Employee Wellness on behalf of the City in January 2013. The decision was based on a successful application, which was submitted to the DOL. It included evaluating the competency of the members of the Occupational Hygiene Unit, inspecting the Occupational Health laboratory and its equipment, as well as auditing the quality management system.
Due to the accreditation, the City can investigate, inspect, test, analyse and make recommendations pertaining to the occupational health and hygiene of staff members and their workplaces, as well as equipment and machinery.
“As a caring City who recognises its employees as its most important asset, the provision of occupational hygiene services, internally, contributes towards the health and well-being of its employees at work. Further, these services will provide significant cost savings for the City and, as the new service develops, it will also develop the skill shortage in this specialist field,” says Co-ordinator: Occupational Health and Hygiene Occupational Health and Safety Corporate Services, Paul Neale.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (1993) stipulates that employers must comply with legislation pertaining to occupational health and hygiene. As this is a specialist function, the DOL has acknowledged that it is unreasonable for the employer to perform the work and, as such, certifies approved inspection authorities to complete it. The City’s Occupational Hygiene Unit, along with the Occupational Health & Safety & Employee Wellness branch will undertake the work for the line departments and, to continue offering the high-quality service, the City will be regularly audited.
Neale says preparing for the certification was not a simple matter. “The awarding of this certification is the culmination of at least seven years of work, which started out with no infrastructure at all, except for a vision that the City would achieve AIA status at some point. Through all the challenges which delayed the process, perseverance, personal sacrifice and a good mentor brought about the final realisation of this vision.
“By achieving this certification, it contributes further to confirmation that the City leads the way in occupational health & safety within local authorities. It also provides me with a great sense of achievement and the opportunity to mentor others in this challenging, but rewarding, occupation,” says Neale.
He acknowledges, however, that there are still more challenges to face in the near future, one of which is preparing to receive South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) accreditation. SANAS is recognised by government as the national accreditation body that recognises laboratories, certification bodies, inspection bodies and test facilities, amongst others, are competent to carry out specific tasks, in terms of the Accreditation for Conformity Assessment, Calibration and Good Laboratory Practice Act 19 of 2006.
We are confident they will be successful.