Red Cards for Food Industry

South Africa. The KwaZulu Natal Department of Labour labeled the Food and Beverage industry “High Risk” after a recent week-long inspection which revealed breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

A month after several restaurants, fast-food outlets and hotels were found to be practising poor Health and Safety standards, more than a third of premises, inspected during this blitz, received red cards.

The department has warned industry bosses to comply with Labour laws governing the sector.

Of the 735 workplaces which were inspected, 256 (35 percent) were found to be in contravention of various sections of the Act.

Among the contraventions identified by the department’s inspectors were:

  • Inadequate Safety measures when dealing with Hazardous substances and Biological agents,
  • Exposure to sharp objects by not providing workers with gloves,
  • Slippery floors that could cause sprains and strains from falling,
  • Not producing compliance certificates for electrical installations were

Back injuries and musclo-skeletal disorders were some of the main causes of occupational ill-health within the sector according to Labour department spokesperson Page Boikanyo.

Boikanyo said the ill health included work-related stress that could be caused by:

  • The inhalation of bakery, spice and grain dust,
  • Occupational dermatitis that affected workers handling meat, poultry, fruit and vegetables,
  • Noise-induced hearing lossd where noise levels exceed 85 decibels, which may be particularly prevalent with noisy plant machinery like bottling, canning and packaging factories,
  • Rhinitis caused by irritant dust from bakeries, spices, grain and seasoning.

Contravention notices and 60 days’ notice to rectify non-compliance were issued to the 256 errant KZN food and beverage workplaces. The Department warned that it would take enforcement measures if the companies were found to be still in contravention of the Act after 60 days.

Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa chairperson Alan Vels said it would be difficult to give informed comment as he had not seen the Labour Department investigation report, but added: “The industry’s establishments are severely affected by the rising food costs and their margins are greatly affected.”

He also stressed that it was still important for the industry to conform to rules and regulations and felt that businesses need to be educated more about the rules governing the industry.”

In June, the Labour Department said many KZN restaurants, fast-food outlets and hotels in some cases failed to produce certificates of compliance for electrical installations while others had no first-aid programmes. General housekeeping was poor.

Source: The Mercury
Original article by: Sinegugu Ndlovu

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