Employers ‘must ensure worker safety’

17 May 2011

Employers must ensure that the safety of workers is not threatened in the workplace, Labour Minister Mildred Nelisiwe Oliphant said in Paulpietersburg on Friday.

“Employers should also fulfil their obligation to ensure that worker’s lives and their safety are not threatened in the workplace. The provision of relevant training and adequate protective wear must be made available by all employers,” Oliphant said during an inspection raid in the farm and forestry sector.

“I urge you workers to take safety in your own hands,” she told workers. “You also need to ensure that health and safety representatives continue to monitor all aspects of workplace safety and bring these to the attention of workers and employers.

“Where no action by the latter takes place, we urge workers to immediately contact our labour inspectors.”

Occupational health and safety

Inspectors focused on occupational health and safety, the basic conditions of employment, employment equity, unemployment insurance and compensation for occupational injuries and diseases Acts.

Among the glaring violations picked up during the raids was the flouting of occupational health and safety standards, Oliphant said.

These included electrical wiring left exposed, exposure of workers to high levels of noise and dust, no guarding of heavy machinery, no proof of safety induction programme in place, no risk assessment plan made available, lack of health and safety representatives appointed, poor ablution facilities, general lack of safety signage, and fire-fighting equipment not accessible enough in case of emergencies.