NUMSA commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the Russian Revolution

Health and Safety: Mpumalanga – Numsa’s health and safety hot spot!

16 July 2006, Posted in News

By: Justice Masutha

The blast at Sasol in 2004 that killed 10 workers and injured 350 many of whom were contract workers, was not the only accident to hit the Mpumalanga region. Numsa-organised Middelburg Ferrochrome and Duvha Power Station have also experienced fatal accidents this year.

A shop steward of Duvha Power Station, says their high injury on duty rates are “mainly amongst sub contractors that work at the site of the primary employer. These workers do not receive thorough training on the nitty gritties of health and safety; sometimes they do not even receive adequate personal protective measures!”

The Occupational Health and Safety Act says the employer must raise health and safety awareness amongst its employees. Both employer and employees must ensure that health and safety standards and procedures are followed. It is also important for workers to participate in health and safety structures.

An organiser in Numsa’s Mpumalanga region believes that most injuries “are caused by negligence, ignorance on the part of both management and workers, excessive overtime and not following the correct procedures.”

For example when there is a breakdown, the entire plant must be switched off and a permit granted. “That process might require the plant to be dead for four to five hours,” the organiser says. “But management prefers to attend to the breakdown for only an hour.”

At a general meeting of Highveld Steel workers, workers heard how it is not uncommon for a worker to get injured, taken to hospital and immediately removed back to work without reporting the injury so that the worker does not lose his production bonus.

Your life is more important than your bonus. Safety is our priority!

Blast injures seven at Scaw Metals

Seven workers were badly burnt in an explosion at Scaw Metals at the beginning of June. Five of them were Numsa members who have since been released from hospital.

Two workers remain in hospital; one of them is in a critical condition.

As Numsa News went to print, the department of labour was due to inspect the scene of the accident.

Sasol agrees to extra compensation

In a landmark compensation deal signed between Sasol and two unions representing the workers, Cosatu chemical union Ceppwawu, and Solidarity, the giant chemical company will pay extra compensation to workers and their families that suffered in the blast.

Workers (or the families of those that have died) will be able to claim workmen’s compensation under the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (Coida) as well as putting in a claim to Sasol for the shortfall.

Usually under Coida, workers are prevented from claiming more money from the company unless they follow a long, complicated and expensive legal process.

In a press release to announce the deal, Sasol accepted “social responsibility” for the blast but refused to acknowledge legal liability.

Lawyer for the unions, Richard Spoor has said that finding some of the injured workers will not be easy because they were employed by contractors who were scattered across South Africa .

If you know of anyone that was affected by this blast and who should be compensated, ask them to contact Ceppwawu on 011-833 2870.