Retail & construction sectors not compliant with safety laws, new report finds

Data shows these sectors recorded the highest number of compensation fund claims, exceeding even the police and security services.

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JOHANNESBURG - A report published by the Employment and Labour Department on occupational health and safety has revealed poor compliance with legislation by the wholesale, retail and construction sectors.

The report was commissioned following the government’s realisation that South Africa had progressive, but fragmented and complicated legislation regarding safety in the workplace resulting in insufficient use of limited resources.

The respondents in the qualitative research study part of the report said there was generally poor compliance with occupational health and safety legislation in all sectors, noting that employers were not complying leading to deaths, injuries and illness.

However, data from the department’s inspectorate service states that the wholesale and retail sector recorded the highest number of compensation fund claims which exceeded even the police and security services.

Fedusa’s general secretary Riefda Ajam has made an impassioned pleas to business, government and labour at a webinar where the report was launched.

“We have become tired. We have become tired and helpless of attending funerals of our family members who are working on the railway tracks. Tired of listening to our members in emergency medical services who are being attacked while saving the lives of our community and equally so, tired of listening to our members who are working and having to resolve to legal action when buildings are declared unsafe and sadly these are your government buildings.”

The monetary value of compensation fund claims was also rising.

Government committed to developing a national policy on occupational health and safety among other solutions.

Participants of the study say there was a lack of standardisation and consistency, with disjuncture and duplication in some workplaces while government systems worked in silos.

Employment and Labour Department Deputy Minister Boitumelo Moloi agreed: “We work in silos most of the time with little coordination and collaboration. There is a general lack of reporting of work-related injuries and diseases in the public sector and work-related injuries and diseases data reporting is fragmented and not harmonised among and within the departments – therefore there is the burden of ohs injuries and diseases. Enforcement of legislation is perceived as a challenge.”

Among the recommendations made in the report is to fast track the process of merging legislation in line with the findings of the project and in line with the 1994 Leon Commission Report.

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