Health and Safety

The Department of Labour’s (DoL) Compensation Fund paid over R2.7-billion in the 2010/2011 in compensation for injuries and diseases sustained in the workplace in the five high risk sectors, a conference was told.


Department of Labour director for Electrical & Chemical Engineering Jacob Malatse, delivering a speech on behalf of DoL’s Deputy Director-General: Inspection & Enforcement Services (IES) Siyanda Nxawe said the cost of non-adherence to occupational health and safety to the economy was dire.

“While our endeavour is to protect vulnerable workers, monitoring the impact of legislation, South Africa continue to be plagued by lack of adherence to occupational health and safety. People continue to die and many succumb to occupational injuries. The loss of work-time because of hazards means a loss of income, a decline in gross domestic product (GDP) and a cost to the country,” Malatse warned.


Malatse was addressing the DoL’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) conference aimed at improving workplace health and safety. The four-day conference is being held at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Boksburg under the theme: “Road to Zero”.


According to DoL problematic sectors which accounted for huge compensation fund claims include iron and steel more than R427.5-million; the Air Road Transport more than R363-million; building and construction more than R287-million; agriculture more than R188; and chemical sector more than R105-million.


“As employers we should not forget our commitment to OHS. We signed the accord and should adhere to it all the times. We have started interventions on the policy front. We will by end of this month start effecting amendments of the OHS Act. We want to ensure that by the end of the 2012/13 the process is complete,” he said.


He said as part of a drive to stem the tide of hazardous workplaces, there would also be a review of amendment to regulations. In addition to policy, he said the Department would continue with its work of inspections and blitzes, programmes on advocacy, research and training.


“Government needs to take a leadership role and set up high standards to ensure safety is maintained,” he said “Despite the challenges we are on the road to zero. We need to work as partners to achieve the road to zero. We will continue to use izimbizos by the Minister to build a culture of prevention, whose benefits are substantive”.


International Labour Organisation (ILO) executive Director for east and Southern
Africa executive director Vic van Vuuren said the world has lost the plot when it comes to protecting workers in the workplace. He said profits seem to take precedence. Van Vuuren said there was a need to move back to morals and values of workplace.


Van Vuuren emphasized the importance of prevention to spur human life.


“The economic crisis has impacted negatively to OHS since 2008. With the global economic crisis expected to deteriorate, adherence to OHS is expected to suffer as a result,” he cautioned also that the use of migtrant workers has become a global issue. He said continued global employment has subjected migrant workers to severe working conditions in the form of dirtry, dangerous and demanding working conditions.


The conference will be wrapped-up on Friday with a keynote address by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, whose paper will focus on interventions to reduce injuries and diseases in South Africa. – ENDS



Issued By Department of Labour





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