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Labour puts spotlight on public health care facilities


The Department of Labour kicked off its two-day seminar on Hazardous Biological Agents (HBA) in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape today [19 September 2016] .  The purpose of the seminar aimed to engage and capacitate Public Health Care stakeholders on the legislation and developments in the sector.  Participants included shop-stewards, occupational health and safety representatives, nurses and doctors from health care institutions.


HBAs are infectious and toxic, but they can also cause allergic reactions such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic rhinitis, some types of asthma and organic dust toxic syndrome.  In health care institutions, employees are exposed to HBAs because of their interaction with patients suffering from various infectious diseases.


Speaking at the seminar, Milly Ruiters, Senior Specialist Occupational Health and Hygiene, noted the non-compliance found during inspections conducted at hospitals.  The inspections were conducted at both private and public hospitals.  “Public hospitals in particular, are of major concern to the Department, as many were found to be grossly non-compliant,” she said.


Some of the contraventions included instances where hazardous waste and clean linen were transported in the same vehicle, and also medical staff leaving controlled areas without the removal of contaminated clothing and/or equipment. 


In accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers must provide and maintain a health and safety management system at work.  This includes that every employee has to be made aware of the hazards associated with work and the precautionary measures that needs to be taken; that health and safety representatives are to be informed beforehand of any inspections or investigations to be conducted by an inspector; and, inform the health and safety representative of the occurrence of an incident in the workplace.


Underpinned by the theme of the seminar, “Towards Zero Tolerance”, the department petitioned stakeholders to work closely with it in ensuring that 100% compliance becomes a reality. 


In the present financial year, the Eastern Cape conducted 55 inspections at health care facilities, of which, 30 notices were issued to those who were found to be non-compliant. 


The seminar also included presentations on the identification, evaluation and control of hazardous biological agents, chemicals and physical stressors in the health care sector and also a presentation on the reporting of occupational injuries in the work-place.


Similar presentations were held in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.


Issued by: Candice van Reenen

Department of Labour – Communications




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