Companies fail on health, safety

22 August 2019 | Health

The majority of companies inspected by the labour ministry in the first quarter of this year were not in compliance with occupational health and safety standards.

Only 23 of the 147 companies inspected were found to be compliant, the ministry says.

The highest number of inspections were conducted in the construction sector (47), representing 32% of the total inspections, followed by the manufacturing and food sector with 15 inspections (10%).

The target was to do occupational health and safety inspections at 285 companies, but only 147 inspections were done, mainly because three positions for inspectors at Tsumeb, Windhoek and Lüderitz were vacant during the reporting period.

Furthermore, the Grootfontein, Katima Mulilo, Otjiwarongo, Oshakati, Mariental and Swakopmund regional offices faced logistical and operational challenges.

“From a total of 147 inspected workplaces, only 23 (16%) were found to be in good compliance with occupational safety and health regulations key selected priority areas. Average and poor compliance level ratings for the remaining workplaces were recorded at 31% and 54% respectively,” the ministry reports.

The highest number of workplaces which received good compliance ratings were recorded in Windhoek, followed by Swakopmund and Keetmanshoop.

The ministry received 10 complaints related to occupational safety and health, most of them from the construction industry, during the period under review.

This is according to a report released by the labour ministry regarding its activities during the first quarter of 2019/20. According to the report the ministry received five major accident notifications from the general engineering, electrical repairs, food and manufacturing, and state-owned enterprises sectors at various regional offices.

Four of the five reported accidents took place in June and are still being investigated.

The ministry also conducted 79 dangerous machinery inspections, exceeding the set target of 50 inspections.

Additionally, the ministry inspected 517 companies in the agriculture, domestic and mining sector and found 161 companies to be non-compliant with conditions of employment.

It said the compliance levels in these three sectors were acceptable. The agriculture sector recorded 70% compliance, the domestic sector 66% and the mining sector recorded 100% compliance.

“Non-compliance was mostly observed in terms of non-payment for overtime, work done on Sundays and public holidays, night work, not keeping records, employees not registered with the Social Security Commission for benefits and non-payment of the minimum wage as per collective agreements.”

According to the report some employers were reluctant to cooperate with labour inspectors.

ELLANIE SMIT

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