OHS as part of a school curriculum

Implementation of occupational health and safety (OHS) at a school level has become a passion of Sanjay Munnoo.

Analysing the millions of preventable injuries that take place around the world on an annual basis is mind boggling. South Africa is no different, whether it is an injury related to work, home or travel.

I’m of the view that health and safety is the responsibility of all citizens. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being”.

Education at our schools has an essential role to play in enabling the majority of people to tend towards that state, by preparing new generations for their adult lives.

For young children, education should address general concepts of health, safety and well-being, as well as social aspects. Then, for teenagers and young adults, the focus should be on promoting the concept of health, safety and well-being at work, and in life in general as an adult and citizen.

This requires appropriate content to be taught and for educational establishments to be healthy and safe. Teachers and learners can then engage in a more comprehensive approach covering the facilities and equipment, as well as the procedures, management and the culture of the educational institution.

Learners should play an active role in the health and safety aspects of their school, take ownership of their environment and how it is managed, and feel motivated to play their part in school safety and health.

A study conducted by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work recommended a whole-school approach to occupational safety and health (OSH), according to the objective below it:

• Combines risk education and managing safety and health in schools for both learners and staff;

• Brings together risk and health education, safety management and the concept of a healthy school;

• Actively involves staff and learners in school safety management;

• Trains and involves teachers in OSH management in their schools. This improves their understanding of OSH and develops practical skills, which improves their ability to provide risk education to learners;

• Develops learners’ understanding of OSH and its importance by example;

• Involves learners in hazard spotting and proposing solutions. It also develops their skills and gives them ownership over school safety rules;

Saiosh retained its recognition as a SAQA Professional Body in terms of the National Qualifications Framework Act, Act 67 of 2008. The certificate was handed to the Saiosh CEO, Neels Nortje, at the 12th SAQA forum meeting in March. From left: Joe Samuels, CEO SAQA; Neels Nortje, CEO Saiosh; Julie Reddy, deputy CEO SAQA.

• Integrates risk education and school safety and health throughout the school’s activities and the way it functions, to become part of school life.

Most school leavers are desperate to find employment and sometimes take on extremely risky work about which they have no knowledge.

The past president of Saiosh, Robin Jones, had a keen affinity for searching YouTube for videos of workplace accidents, or near misses. Searching for “workplace fails” or “excavation fails” reveals hundreds of videos with horrific footage.

Most of these videos make one question what the person in the video was thinking. However, the sad reality is that people are taking these risks to earn a living and support their families.

Published by

Sanjay Munnoo

Dr Sanjay Munnoo is a fellow chartered member and President of Saiosh. He is the chief business development officer at FEM and graduated with a PhD in Construction Management from Nelson Mandela University.
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