Labour inspectors crack down on supermarkets

2010-04-26 00:00

LABOUR inspectors have closed in on supermarkets that disregard the Occupational Health and Safety Act, putting their employees’ lives at risk.

The act protects the employees from being subjected to unhealthy and hazardous working conditions.

KwaZulu-Natal labour spokesperson Jay Anand said two major supermarkets in Pietermaritzburg have been served prohibition notices after they were found to be exposing their employees to danger by disregarding occupational health and safety measures.

Other wholesalers and retailers in the province have been also been found to be in breach of the act.

In one supermarket, the owner did not provide appropriate personal protective gear for working in cold rooms.

Anand said this is in direct violation of the environmental regulations for workplaces.

The other employer was found to be flouting electrical installation regulations.

In both instances, the prohibition notices remain in force and will not be revoked until inspectors are satisfied that all safety measures are met.

“Since April 12, we have been doing inspections on more than 600 employers in the wholesale and retail sector in KZN,” said Anand

Preliminary reports from 16 labour centres show an alarmingly low level of compliance, with more than half of the workplaces visited found to be contravening various aspects of employment conditions and safety standards as prescribed by relevant legislation.

Where there is an immediate danger to the lives of the workers, inspectors prohibit the use of equipment or facilities posing that danger, said Anand.

He added that there are measures in place to monitor compliance and that if compliance is ignored, labour inspectors may refer the cases to court.

Inspectors also discovered a high level of non-compliance in payment of minimum wages, unavailability of employees’ written particulars and many other transgressions.

“Some employers are not issuing payslips, annual leave is not granted to employees, there is no proof of registration with the unemployment insurance fund and overtime is not paid to employees.

All employers found to be on the wrong side of the law are given set time frames to comply, said Anand.

“Failure to do so will lead to court action being taken against them,” he added.

Follow-up inspections will be conducted to monitor progress and prosecute those who fail to comply.

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