The UCT OHSE Plan | Other policies | OHSE governance


The UCT Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental (OHSE) Management System ensures that the planning, organising, leading and controlling of all OHSE components are managed to their full potential. It ensures compliance with the various legislative requirements linked to the strategic goals of UCT and alignment with staff key performance indicators (KPIs). It further provides for continuous improvement and effective, efficient control of potential occupational health and safety risks and exposures to minimise the impact on staff, students, visitors, service providers and the communities related to the University of Cape Town.


The UCT OHSE Plan applies to all University staff, students, vendors and contractors to facilities controlled by the University of Cape Town. The scope extends to all current and future activities, including new projects.

Where necessary, more detailed policies and procedures shall be developed to cover specific areas of UCT's operations within its faculties, departments and associated units. Where this occurs, such policies and regulations should comply with the broad directions described in the UCT Health and Safety Policy.

Legislative Requirements

The University of Cape Town has a legal obligation to fulfil all the requirements of statutes, state laws and regulations. Where work is carried out in a country outside of South Africa, UCT will adopt that country's applicable health and safety laws and regulations.

The legislation and regulations governing the occupational health and safety components are:

For the University of Cape Town to achieve the highest level of compliance and best practices, the University will execute a health and safety plan as set out in this document.

Other policies

The OHSE policy is a statement of UCT’s commitment to the health and safety of its staff and students. Each policy segment reinforces the philosophy, values and goals of UCT’s OHSE program. It also details the UCT’s tangible efforts to keep staff safe.

Additional policies govern the UCT’s OHSE. These policies are a necessary part of UCT’s comprehensive safety program. In addition to general safety rules, job-specific safety policies ensure hazards for each activity are addressed.

Additional policies are:

  • Environmental Policy 
  • Drug and Alcohol Policy 
  • UCT Smoking Policy 
  • Incident Reporting Policy 
  • Contractor Management Policy 

OHSE governance

Applying an OHSE governance model will help UCT to facilitate the engagement of OHSE at the highest level and to integrate OHSE as a strategic UCT business value. Given the significant relationship between governance practices at Council level, OHS engagement is critical in promoting client and investor confidence.

In carrying out due diligence regarding the Occupational Health and Safety Act, UCT needs to ensure the following measures are addressed:  

  • Acquire and keep up-to-date knowledge of health and safety matters;
  • Gain an understanding of the hazards and risks associated with the nature of the UCT operations;  
  • Ensure that UCT has appropriate resources and processes to enable risks to health and safety arising from all activities are carried out as part of the undertaking to be eliminated or minimised;
  • Ensure that UCT has appropriate processes for reporting and considering information about incidents, hazards and risks can be responded to and addressed timeously;
  • Ensure that UCT implements processes for complying with its duties and obligations to the health and safety of its staff and students.

Good corporate governance provides an appropriate structure through which the UCT OHSE objectives of the organisation are established, and the means of attaining those objectives and monitoring performance are determined through an auditing program.

Best-practice principles for OHS governance

Culture, standards and values: The Leadership Lekgotla takes ownership of key OHSE issues and are ambassadors for good OHSE performance within the business, upholding core values and standards. They ensure the right tone is set and establish an open culture across UCT with a high level of communication both internally and externally on OHSE issues.

Performance management: The UCT Central Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Committee (COHSAC) sets out the key objectives and targets for OHSE management and creates a structure for senior management which drives OHSE performance.

Internal controls: Internal Controls ensure that OHS risks are managed and controlled adequately and that a framework to ensure compliance with standards is established. Governance structures enable the UCT OHSE management systems, actions and levels of performance to be challenged. This process will utilise internal controls and audit structures to be reviewed by the COHSAC.

Organisational structure: Health and safety must be managed in all areas of campus. For this reason, the OHS Act requires delegation of responsibility at all levels, from the Vice-Chancellor through the various lines of management, including heads of departments, managers, wardens, supervisors, and team leaders. Specific roles and responsibilities, as dictated by the OHSE Act, should be clearly defined in writing. Role players are:

  • UCT Council (governance)
  • Senior leadership (strategic management)      
  • Deans / executive directors (strategic management)
  • Heads of departments / directors (operational management)
  • Management / supervisory staff (operational management)
  • Staff, students, visitors and vendors 

Roles and responsibilities: All senior management should understand their legal responsibilities and their role in governing OHSE matters for their areas of responsibility. Their roles should be supported by formal individual appointments, covering as a minimum setting OHSE standards, performance monitoring and internal control. The UCT roles and responsibilities are laid out below.

  • UCT Council (governance): The UCT Council, with strategic oversight of all matters related to OHSE at the institution, seeks assurance that effective OHSE Risk and Compliance arrangements are in place and are working. Members of the Council ensure that the institution meets its OHSE responsibilities in line with the principles of Good Governance, such as transparency, accountability and responsibility.
  • Senior leadership (strategic management): Senior leadership seeks to ensure that staff, students, visitors and contractors are healthy and safe as an essential part of managing risks associated with the relevant academic/professional fields. Although accountability rests at this level, operational aspects of OHSE management are delegated to other tiers. To gain assurances that these responsibilities are being fulfilled.
  • Deans / executive directors (strategic management): Deans and executive directors seek to ensure that OHSE management systems and arrangements are implemented within their specific faculty and department, and that OHSE risks are managed in order to protect staff, students, visitors and contractors working in the faculty or department. Seeking a clear understanding and oversight of the OHSE operations and activities undertaken in the faculty or department so that the most appropriate OHSE structures are implemented and that the relevant faculties and departments are appropriately integrated within the overall strategic OHSE direction. 
  • Heads of departments / directors (operational management): Heads of departments or directors in faculties or departments seek to implement OHSE management arrangements and to monitor and check their effectiveness.
  • Management / supervisory staff (operational management): Staff members with supervisory responsibility in a faculty or department seek to monitor and check that the OHSE arrangements and rules are being followed. Management and supervisory staff ensure that any concerns with the effectiveness of OHSE arrangements are communicated to the appropriate person or line manager to ensure continual improvement of the OHSE management system. 
  • Staff, students, vendors and visitors: The OHSE duties and responsibilities of UCT staff, students, vendors and visitors are to:
    • Take reasonable care for their health and safety of themselves and of other persons who may be affected by their acts (or omissions). 
    • Co-operate with UCT so as to enable OHSE duties and requirements to be performed and complied with.
    • Carry out any lawful order given to them and obey the health and safety rules and procedures laid down by UCT or by anyone authorised thereto by UCT in the interest of health and safety.
    • As soon as practicable, report to UCT any situation that comes to their attention as unsafe or unhealthy.
    • As soon as practicable, but before the end of the shift before an incident happened, report to UCT any incident that may affect their health or that has caused injury to themselves. 
    • Not intentionally or recklessly interfere with, damage or misuse anything that is provided in the interest of health or safety. 
    • Not wilfully or recklessly do anything at a workplace or in connection with the use of plant or machinery that threatens the health or safety of any person. 
    • Not tamper with or misuse any safety equipment installed or provided to any person.
    • Not fail to use any safety equipment at a workplace or in the course of their employment or in connection with the use of plant or machinery that was provided to them. 
    • Ensure that all statements or entries contained in any records or documents kept by any person or found on or in any premises occupied or used by UCT, and that may have a bearing on OHSE are within the scope of authority of the author to make such entries and statements, and that those statements and entries are a true reflection of the facts as set forth.
    • Not disclose any information concerning the affairs of any other person obtained by the carrying out of functions in terms of this Act, except:
      • To the extent to which it may be necessary for the proper administration of a provision of the OHSE Act; 
      • For the purposes of the administration of justice; or 
      • At the request of a health and safety representative or health and safety committee.