Farm labour inspection reveals low health and safety score

A ‘tough’ farm labour inspection blitz by the Department of Labour in 2014 revealed “low levels of compliance with labour laws”.

Many farmers at Reitz in the Free State province were found wanting in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), according to a consolidated report compiled by labour inspectors

The DOL issued six prohibition notices, 12 contravention notices, and five undertaking notices in one area at the end of February alone.

• A prohibition notice is issued in the case of a life-threatening situation.
• A contravention notice relates to non-compliance with provisions of the OHS Act.
• An undertaking is a promise by the employer to abide by the law within a specific period, usually 21 days.

Some workers operated forklift machines without the requisite certificate. Other notices related to boilers being used without the approval of the Department or an approved inspection authority (AIA).

Some employers failed to provide workers with personal protective clothing and equipment. Some toilet facilities were either lacking or leaving too much to be desired.

A total of 17 employers near Reitz were visited in the farm labour inspection blitz, joined by Marsha Bronkhorst, chief director of provincial operations, Thobile Lamati, deputy director-general of inspection and enforcement services, Aggie Moiloa, chief operations officer, and Sam Mashinini, Free State provincial secretary of Cosatu.

Mashinini urged non-compliant employers to follow in the footsteps of those abiding by the laws of the country and treating workers humanely.

Lamati said the inspections were aimed at educating employers and employees about their responsibilities with regard to both OHS Act and BCE Act.

Bronkhorst, said employers should not take short cuts with the law and comply with the bare minimum of requirements.

Zondi said some employers showed a good attitude towards complying with health and safety and other labour laws.

Danie Slabbert, SA’s Young Farmer of the Year of last year, said: “It helps if all farmers abide by the labour laws for the good of our country and economic growth. Where we fall short, we should work with the Department to correct such [deficits].’’

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