Pretoria – The Department of Labour has ceased all operations at a construction site where five workers died when the trench they were digging gave way in Lindley, Eastern Free State, on the weekend.
All operations have been banned while inspectors look into the circumstances around the tragedy. One of the five worker was digging a trench five meters deep to install sewerage pipes at Ntha Township when excavated sand fell on him. When four of his colleagues tried to help him out of the sand the entire trench collapsed on them, immediately killing them all.
During preliminary investigations it was discovered that the employer had not registered the site with the Department of Labour. Departmental spokesperson Page Boikanyo reported that action would be taken should it be discovered that there was negligence on his part.
“People’s lives come first,” Mr Boikanyo added. The Department of Labour urges all employers and employees to ensure that their workplaces comply with Occupational health and safety regulations; to ensure a proper working environment, inspectors continously conduct inspections to ensure labour law compliance.
The Occupation Health and Safety act requires employers to maintain a safe working environment that is whithout risk to the health of the workers. In order to minimise risks to workers across the sector, government has been doubling efforts to enforce law compliance.
The minister of labour Membhathisi Mdladlana sent his condolences to the families of the deceased and the department is also assisting the families with preparing the relevant documents for the Compensation Fund as well as Unemployment Insurance fund.