Construction Blitzes Highlight Safety Plight

South Africa. After visiting 217 sites in the Free State, the Department of Labour issued a statement claiming that some construction firms are still contravening the Occupational Health and Safety Act and putting workers lives at risk. This is despite the existence of comprehensive legislation stipulating all requirements needed before any work can be commenced.

In the Free State, only 149 of the sites complied and 68 were found guilty of transgressions. Eighteen sites were halted until employers put their house in order and complied. These employees were given 60 days to comply with the contravention notices, or face prosecution.

In one instance, inspectors found that the contractors had not informed the department about construction work taking place and that no competent people had been appointed to erect and qualify scaffolds. Furthermore, competent safety supervisors had not been appointed in writing and employees were conducting their work without the necessary safety apparel.

Forty contravention notices and compliance orders were issued for breach of construction regulations, including safety plans and files not being available on site, as well as risk assessments.

Other contraventions included lack of fire fighting equipment on site, barricades not in place where necessary and no safety signage near danger zones.

The Western Cape has not fared better and inspectors have issued 33 notices in this province.

In this province, 65 construction sites in Cape Town, Bellville, Somerset West and Worcester were inspected. Six sites were issued with notices for improvements that needed to be made. Three sites were halted for contraventions. Transgressions include lack of first aid boxes and first aid appointees on site as well as not having copies of the Occupational Health and Safety Act on site.

‘These blitzes are conducted so as to ensure compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations as well as to increase inspectors’ visibility in the construction sector’ says a statement issued by the Department of Labour.

Follow-up blitzes are planned in September 2009 in both provinces and those employees still not complying will be subjected to prosecution.

Sources:   www.business.iafrica.com, www.info.gov.za, www.weekendpost.co.za

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