Familiarisation with the legislation which affects vision screening is required. The relevant document should be available for referencing, should the need arise, in the clinic where vision screening is done. The Employment Equity Act, No. 55 of 1998 (EEA) requires that for every job for which a fitness-to-work medical examination is done is to have specific minimum health standards in relation to the essential functions of such a job. This is to ensure that bias and discrimination by the employer is eliminated, and all employees enjoy equal and fair treatment in the workplace. An OMP is responsible for executing fitness-to-work medical examinations and must ensure that he/she is familiar with the specific physical and mental requirements of each job (action and exclusion criteria) for which he has to issue a fitness to work certificate.
There are several Acts that regulate vision screening in the workplace, we will focus on the most commonly used standards and legislation only namely:
The Occupational Health and Safety Act, Act 85 of 1993 (OSHA) and Regulations
The Mine Health and Safety Act, Act 29 of 1996 (MHSA) with the Codes of Practice
The Merchant Shipping Act, Act 57 on 1951 (MSA) and Regulations
The National Road Traffic Act, Act 93 of 1996 (NRTA) and Regulations
The Compensation for Occupation Injuries and Diseases Act, Act 130 of 1993 (COIDA)
Please note that certain industries have industry-specific vision fitness criteria based on legislation, standards, and guidelines. It is therefore important for the vision screening technician / OHNP to familiarise themselves with industry-specific fitness criteria for these specific working environments. Some of these industries are:
The OSH1 and MHS3 Acts as listed above provide for the health and safety of people at work or in connection with the use of equipment, products, chemicals, substances, and machinery. They further provide for the protection of people other than workers from hazards arising out of or in connection with the activities of the industry or mine. Both pieces of legislation require that employers and employees identify hazards and eliminate, control, and minimise risks arising for work and enforce employee participation in matters of health and safety.
The Merchant Shipping Act (MSA)20 makes provision for anything to do with this shipping as this industry is excluded from the OSH and MHS acts. It covers everything from registering ships, employment and living conditions for seamen, safety, and health requirements (including vision requirements), accidents, navigation and even courts of enquires. The Act sets out a variety of duties and obligations for ship owners, masters, captains, crew members and even passengers. ‘Merchant shippers’ are also those who take holiday-makers on cruises – and the Act applies to them as well.
The National Road Traffic Act, No. 93 of 1996, manages and controls the use of South African roads and in order to ensure that the vehicles and drivers operate safely and competently. The National Road Traffic Act (NRTA) sets out the rules around who can drive a vehicle, the qualifications required to drive, how to operate a vehicle on the various types of roads and what penalties for operating a vehicle in a reckless or negligent manner or failing to comply with the rules of the road.
The last Act, the Compensation for Occupation Injuries and Diseases Act, Act 130 of 1993 (COIDA) is applicable when the measures are prescribed in the MHSA, OSH Act and MSA. It provides for the compensation for disablement caused by occupational injuries or diseases sustained or contracted by employees in the course of their employment, or for death resulting from such injuries or diseases. The Fund also provides compensation to the dependents of an employee who dies as a result of a work-related injury or disease (“disablement”). The following employment groups / people are excluded from claiming compensation from the Fund:
Members of the South African National Defence Force (these members have their own funds)
Members of the South African Police Service (these members have their own funds)
Employees of the State performing military service or undergoing training in terms of the Defence Act
Employees working outside of South Africa for more than 12 months at a time unless an agreement was entered into with the Fund.