Workplace Safety A Responsibility For All

South Africa. Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana has urged workers’ unions to play an active role in preventing the high rate of workplace accidents and fatalities that are plaguing the construction industry.

Mdladlana made the plea to workers at Soccer City stadium’s 2010 construction site today where he launched the department’s five-day countrywide occupational health and safety inspection blitz of the construction sector.

The upcoming 2010 Soccer World Cup to be hosted by South Africa has seen a huge increase in construction activity throughout the country, so have accidents and fatalities in a sector that has a poor occupational health and safety reputation.

Only last month a worker died when a concrete slab fell on him at the construction site of the Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane, Limpopo.

Addressing workers and employers during his Soccer City inspection, the Minister said while he was happy that the company celebrated achieving one million accident-free man hours at the site recently, the tendency by subcontractors to leave workers unsupervised was always a recipe for disaster.

"This is one industry that continues to give our department headaches. Though I am impressed by the good working relations between management and unions, I still believe supervisors should be more hands-on in preventing unnecessary injuries, while worker representatives should assume the role of being the eyes and ears of the department since it is impossible for our inspectors to be everywhere at the same time," he said.

During the scrutiny, inspectors cautioned the employer on unhygienic toilet conditions, as well as high dust levels and exposed electrical wiring. A comprehensive report on the inspection will be released in due course. The inspections will continue in various parts of the country until Friday, 29 August 2008.

Source: Department of Labour
25 August 2008

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