South Africa. The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Labour has lodged a full-scale Occupational Health and Safety investigation into Umhlanga Hospital after the fire on Monday 1 June that claimed the lives of two patients, and led to 24 patients and staff being treated for smoke inhalation.
The Labour Department’s Jay Anand said the probe was aimed at establishing the cause of the fire, including any possible negligence or flouting of occupational health and safety measures.
“The Labour inspectors’ preliminary findings indicate that a fire broke out at the Surgical 1 Ward in the early hours of Monday morning. It was alleged, during the initial inspection, that the fire possibly started in the linen room, which is located within the Surgical 1 Ward,” he said.
Anand said the reports they received indicated that 13 patients had been evacuated and treated for smoke inhalation. He said two of these patients died due to excessive smoke inhalation. “A total of 13 staff members were also treated for smoke inhalation, and were later discharged,” he said.
Anand said the department was still waiting for reports from the Safety officer and Safety Representatives at the hospital.
“A Risk Assessment document and fire evacuation procedures are still pending from the employer as well,” he said.
The department was also checking on how the hospital’s fire warning systems functioned.
“The maintenance and implementation of all these procedures, systems and equipment will also be closely scrutinised, but at this stage the cause of the fire is still unclear,” he said.