DOL gain 100 new OHS Labour inspectors

The Department of Labour asked the state to fund 100 new health and safety and BEE Labour inspectors, in addition to the current 145.

The DOL now has a total staff of 1347 inspectors, of which 1247 posts are filled, but only 145 of these are health and safety inspectors.

Addressing the Labour Portfolio Committee in Cape Town, the Department of Labour Director General, Thobile Lamati, said they needed to “address critical areas around Occupational Health and Safety and employment equity (EE)”.

The occupational health and safety inspection ratio benchmark of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is one inspector for every 20 000 workers.

According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey of February 2015, South Africa has 15 320 000 workers, and therefore the country needs 1011 OHS inspectors, said Lamati.

The 100 new Labour inspectors would cost R64-million, and would enable “the original idea of specialisation [of Labour inspectors], as approved by the [former] Minster in 2012.”

The R64-million equals Treasury’s withdrawal of some Labour budget in the previous financial year, and is thus a re-allocation.

“We met with employers and told them of their responsibilities in promoting OHS. We signed OHS Agreements in construction, iron and steel, as well as chemical industries,” said Lamati.

“Some employers are exposing workers to hazardous employment.”

Some of the current Labour inspectors in training in 2013 (Photo; Adv Raynard Looch).
Some of the current Labour inspectors in training in 2013 (Photo; Adv Raynard Looch).

Politicians support the return of the major cut of the inspection budget

Labour portfolio chairperson, Lumka Yengeni, said they would support the request to Treasury to give back the formerly allocated budget to the department.

Department of Labour inspectors visit workplaces to check the level of compliance with labour legislation.

Labour inspectors are appointed in terms of section 63 (1) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, to monitor and enforce these laws;
[] Basic Conditions of employment Act
[] Compensation for Occupational Injury and Diseases Act
[] Employment Equity Act
[] Occupational Health and Safety Act
[] Unemployment Insurance Act.

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6 thoughts on “DOL gain 100 new OHS Labour inspectors

  1. VIVA DoL VIVA! Let’s see if this happens. Let’s see if the appointments have the appropriate competence – that means skills, knowledge and experience.

  2. Too right Koos! My concern is that BCE, COID, EE and UI are all administrative Acts and require a different skill set to that needed for OHS Act enforcement. Many readers have worked long and hard to acquire the qualifications and competencies, and some to get the construction certifications (ignoring the various discourses on the validity of the latter) to enable them to provide support in the implementation of the OHS Act and Regulations and, with all due respect, one wonders what magic pill these new inspectors have access to, to develop their skill sets.

  3. I find it very strange that department of labour wants to enforce Occupational healtj and safety Act, yet there is not enough budget to do so. We are day and night telling the contractors to make provision on thier tender prices for the management of Occupational Health and Safety Act, yet the paliament is cutting the budget on the same issue. My learned friend Mr Lamati is justifying the cutting of the budget by stating that the international labour organisation requires 1 inspector for every 20 000 employees.
    May be the question should be about the accessibility of the sites by this inspectors, if they are able to visit the sites and enforce the law, then we can speal about the ILO stanndards, but if that is not the case we then need to do something fast.

    ==== Editor notes; All work sites are accessible to Labour inspectors, as provided for in law. Discount mine workers, they are served by a different inspectorate, also a bit low on budget, but over the years I have met at least two of them.
    The number of Labour inspectors had always been too low. Government had just cut the budget a bit more. The DOL diluted the health and safety budget by allocating more staff to BEE, and against non-voting immigrants, and to its other political and contractural objectives, such as IT.

  4. I request any advice in getting Labour Inspectorate approval for a safety cage or work platform that we use to lift personnel in during order-picking and stock-taking.
    The DOL requires certification of the forklift that carries the work platform; a valid license of the forklift operator; and the registration and approval of the safety cage (Work platform) by the DOL INSPECTORATE.
    The problem is the difficulty of locating a Labour inspector in the Department of Labour to vist the site to assess the work platform for approval purposes. We are at the industrial site of Olifantsfointein in Midrand. How could we proceed.

  5. Strange response – why are we so negative to the DoL. Recognise the positives, yes we could do with more support and inspections, but what are employers doing to improve health and safety?

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