Ahead of a deadline on August 14, the Department of Labour has had no correspondence from 1 171 companies found to have contravened health and safety regulations.
“If we find by the end of the week that those companies are still non-compliant, they will be prosecuted,” said Thobile Lamati, chief inspector at the department.
After a first round of inspections of 2 410 companies in March, about half were found non-compliant. “We are now targeting those businesses in a second round of inspections,” said Lamati.
From the time of the first inspection, defaulting companies were afforded a window of 60 days to align themselves with legal health and safety standards.
Lamati would not comment on companies currently under investigation, but said in future it would publish a list of transgressors.
Earlier in the same week, the department issued South African steel and iron employers with contravention notices, identifying the sector as one of “high risk”.
“The steel industry is a big concern,” said Lamati. Compensation claims worth R390-m were paid out in the iron and steel industry in 2007, amounting to 15% of total claims.
According to the department, there were 327 injuries in the steel and iron-related industry over the past three years.
“Although many people are killed in mining, the construction industry is killing just as many this year,” said Ben Fouché, founder of the online health and safety magazine, SHEQafrica.com.
But with the surge of construction leading up to the 2010 Fifa World Cup, the high number of deaths should be temporary, added Fouché.
Nevertheless, there has been a big need for the department to be stricter on health and safety, and it has been enforcing the laws a lot better this year, he said.