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Construction Safety Chaos

South Africa. The Building, Construction and Allied Workers Union (BCAWU) has fingered the Labour Department’s failure to provide a sufficient number of Health and Safety inspectors as one of the reasons behind the growing number of accidents on construction sites.

The union says the shortage of Health and Safety inspectors is driving construction companies to disregard regulations.

It also says the Labour Department is refusing to work with Labour unions to curb the problem.

In September a 33-year-old man was killed in Midrand when the walls of a trench he was working in collapsed on him.

Twelve people were trapped under rubble after a building collapsed on them in Pretoria and in February a man fell to his death from a bridge he was working on in Johannesburg.

The union’s spokesperson, Daniel Kgonyane, says construction workers are also exploited due to the high level of unemployment and a lack of knowledge about their rights.

“We also get situations where workers claim for compensation, but then struggle to locate their employers for additional information, especially in short-term construction situations.”

Kgonyane says the union is embarking on a drive to elect Safety committee members in various companies because committees imposed on workers by employers are dysfunctional.

“When injured workers claim, they don’t act in their best interest as they follow instructions from management,” he says.

“There are many more cases of workers getting injured or killed at work that go unreported and the Department of Labour is not cooperative in terms of giving us statistics of cases that are under their investigation.

Source: City Press
9 August 2008

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