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Tongaat mall collapse inquiry report to prosecutors

The Tongaat Mall collapse inquiry reported several contraventions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act), and Construction Regulations Amendment, in May 2016.

Among the findings are;

  • Poor construction of beam 7 had triggered the collapse
  • Piles for some of the columns were under-designed, and over-loaded
  • Lack of supervision of construction work
  • Failure to appoint a competent supervisor for construction work
  • Lack of knowledge to execute an interdependent structure
  • Defective materials, including cement imported from Pakistan, not meeting SANS standards
  • Failure to prepare drawings, and failure to work from drawings
  • Poor construction methods
  • Contravention of section 4 of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act (construction started before approval by the local authority)
  • Manufacturers did not discharge all their duties in terms of the OHS Act
  • The employer did not inform employees about safety standards.

Labour minister Mildred Oliphant said the DOL had “strengthened relations with the NPA to make sure that there is a successful prosecution on occupational health and safety cases that are referred,” reported Allafrica.com.

The current review of the OHS Act would “strengthen measures to enforce legislation,” including vicarious liability of all parties involved.”

The Director of Public Prosecutions of the NPA may decide on any prosecutions based on the findings, in June 2016.

Three years ago, two people were killed and 29 people injured when a column neck exploded, and a section of the mall collapsed during construction on November 19. Twenty-nine workers sustained serious injuries including to the head, back, and lower bodies.

Rectangle Property Investment had bought the stand and building plans submitted some years before. Their application for earthwork was rejected.

However the owners went ahead with excavation work. Gralio Precast was the agent and principal contractor.

Construction deaths now 1.5 per week

About 40% of the construction industry, involving 5000 sites, did not comply with some of the relevant laws (see earlier reports about compliance rates reported by the DOL in previous years).

Fatal construction incidents in South Africa now take a toll of about 1.5 deaths per week.

* See earlier reports on testimony of various role-players at the Tongaat /Thongahi Mall collapse inquiry, on Sheqafrica.com

* See an earlier report on interested parties gaining access to an incident investigation report, via a court order, on Sheqafrica.com.

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