Labour inspectors stop work at nine housing sites

Labour inspectors stopped work at nine housing projects in Meyersdal, Alberton, on Construction Regulations and safety laws on 25 August.

The Department of Labour Inspection Services housing building site blitz follows a week after the multi-fatal Meyersdal Eco Estate house improvement site slab collapse.

DOL and nine stakeholders launched the Meyersdal, Alberton Eco Estate house slab collapse inquiry in Pretoria, set to begin with the cross-examination of witnesses on October 29.

The Inquiry will devote its evidence gathering session mainly to the theme of the columns that supported the area that collapsed.

Maphaha said he does not want the Commission to waste time by interrogating issues that did not [directly] result in the collapse.

The briefing session was preceded by an objection from the legal representative of the client (owner of the house) against the presence of the media in the inquiry.

Attorney Eddie Classen said the Presiding Officer (Maphaha) had failed to consult “parties with interest” for their inputs on the media presence.

Maphaha referred Classen to the Department of Labour’s Chief Inspector, Thobile Lamati, to lodge his objections. Maphaha accused Classen of being a stumbling block to the work of the Commission.

Classen replied; “Public interest to me matters most in how we conduct this inquiry.” Maphaha cautioned that there were workers who died and were injured, and their families wanted to know what happened.

The Section 32 hearing was appointed by the Department of Labour to investigate any instance of negligence that resulted in occupational injuries and death of workers, and to “help review the Act and regulations; and help review safety management systems.”

“We are not here in a witch-hunt and finger-pointing exercise,” Maphaha said. Seven workers died and nine were hospitalised on the double storey house improvement construction site.

Department of Labour Senior Specialist: Construction, Health and Safety, Phumudzo Maphaha, will be assisted by DOL Principal Inspector Christo du Preez, and Specialist Inspector Lesibe Raphela.

The nine interested parties at the inquiry are;

• Department of Labour
• the owner
• the foreman
• employees
• the designer
• Ekurhuleni Metro
• Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA)
• National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC)
• National Regulator for Compulsory Specification (SABS NRCS).

Maphaha expects “by December 2014 to wrap up and prepare a report.” The process to subpoena witness started in late August.

The Meyersdal Eco Estate house collapse near Alberton took the second largest toll in the last 20 years, surpassed only by the Injaka bridge collapse in Mpumalanga that led to the death of 14 workers in 1996.

* The Department of Labour’s Provincial Labour Centre Office is at Concillium Building, 239 Nana Sita Street (formerly Skinner Street). The building is between Paul Kruger Street and Thabo Sehume Street (formerly Andries Street).

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