Employer’s Duty to Provide a Safe Working Environment

Itumeleng Clarence Tshoose


At common law, employers have a duty to take reasonable care for the safety of their employees in all the circumstances of employment. The duty to provide a safe work place relates to the employer’s responsibilities imposed by the common law to ensure that the work place is reasonably safe, while the employer’s duty to provide a safe work system relates to the responsibility to ensure that the actual mode of conducting work is safe.  The South African legislation provides for various rights and duties for both employers and employees. In substance, these Acts restate the common law position in obliging employers to take all reasonable and practicable measures to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. Over and above the general duty, specific measures to be taken by the employers are set out in the regulations to the Acts. The aim of this paper is to analyse the provisions of section 8 of Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 and section 2 (1) of the Mine Health and Safety Act 29 of 1996.  They specify the list of duties imposed on employers, in particular the provision which provides that some of these duties are absolute, which means that an employer has to comply with them at all times. Secondly the paper examines the nature and the extent of obligation imposed on the employer towards the health and safety of their employees while they are carrying out their duties. This current position will be analysed in order to determine whether it is satisfactory. 

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JICLT is a member of the Directory of Open-Access Journals (www.doaj.org). ISSN: 1901-8401.