Two critically burned in workplace explosion

2008-01-25 00:00

THE Labour Department served an immediate prohibition notice on the Cargo-Lite truck company on C.B. Downes Road, Mkondeni, after two employees were critically burned in an explosion there yesterday.

Department spokeswoman Zolisa Sigabi said the company, which manufactures truck bodies, must halt operations until investigations are finalised.

Labour inspectors will return to the site this morning. Sigabi said it seems that two employees were inside a truck tanker when the explosion occurred.

Inspector Joey Jeevan said Musa Enoch Mncwabe (31) and Malusi Godfrey Ngcobo (23) were removed from the tanker by colleagues after the explosion. One of the men suffered 100% burns to his body, and the other 97% burns.

Jeevan said chemical samples were taken and will be forwarded to the police forensic sciences laboratory for analysis.

Netcare 911 spokesman Chris Botha said paramedics who rushed to the scene found “two welders that were in a tank when the explosion took place”.

“Both employees sustained in excess of 90% burns to their entire bodies,” he said.

One of the men had to be placed on a ventilator at the scene.

Both men remain in a critical condition in St Anne’s Hospital.

Cargo-Lite management declined to comment when The Witness visited shortly after the incident occurred. Management only said investigations are “ongoing”.

An eyewitness who did not want to be named told The Witness that he heard a bang and saw smoke coming from a tank.

“I then heard men screaming inside the tank and I ran to disconnect the electricity, thinking it was an electrical fault,” the eyewitness said, explaining that there was an extension cord running through the workshop into the tanker.

He said another employee ran over to the tank and pulled one of the men out, while they used a fire extinguisher to douse the flames.

Their bosses told them to immediately evacuate the area.

Concerns have been raised that the company may have a possible history of health and safety issues.

A man died at the same premises in a chemical explosion last year. The man was cutting metal using a torch when a drum containing a flammable substance exploded. At the time, employees said the company failed to consider their safety.

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 (Preventative law), section 8 (1), it is the responsibility of the employer to provide and maintain a workplace that is safe and without risk to the health of their employees.

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