Factory safety: ‘Most bosses comply’

2012-02-03 00:00

DAYS after a fire at a paint factory in Tongaat injured 12 people, the Department of Labour insisted that levels of compliance with health and safety regulations are up to standard.

Department spokesperson Jay Anand said that 6 018 of 8 594 (79%) employers across the greater Durban metropolitan complied with the Health and Safety Act of 1992 for the financial year 2010/11.

He added that inspectors, who have powers to visit workplaces at any time, conduct proactive, routine and reactive inspections on a daily basis.

Last month The Witness reported an explosion resulting from a chemical fire at a paint factory in Verulam, while two men died in another chemical inferno in Jacobs.

The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) said compliance levels of chemical factories according to the Act were low and enforcement was weak.

SDCEA spokesperson Desmond D’Sa said the chemicals and petrochemicals industry had been “getting away with murder” for years and that the Labour Department punished “offending companies with slaps on the wrist”.

Anand said that in the case of offending companies, employers were given the opportunity to comply within prescribed periods. “When the department follows up on those issues and contraventions still exist, prosecution is recommended.”

The process then went to court where imposing fines and sentences was outside the jurisdiction of the Department of Labour, he said.

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