The Department of Employment and Labour Inspectorate in Limpopo prohibited the use of some of the classrooms at Kgwatlhele Primary School outside Mokopane on Tuesday due to the unsafe conditions of the building structure that are badly cracked and pose a danger to learners and teachers.
This follows a complaint laid by the parents during the first week of this month about the unsafe classrooms with cracks that are visible from inside and outside of the building.
A notice for a reactive inspection was then served to school principal on April 12 for the inspection to be conducted on the 20th of this month. Both administrative and a walk-through inspection were conducted at the school, the whole of Building Block E and F were prohibited and only grade 1A on building block A was found not to be compliant with the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS).
The building was prohibited based on the following findings:
The utilisation of block E & F with cracks that are visible from inside and outside of the building that pose immediate danger of structural failure/collapse and may cause death to persons.
The use of classroom grade 1A of building Block “A” with cracks which are visible from inside and outside of the building which pose an immediate danger of structural failure/collapse and may cause death to persons.
The use of admin building block with cracks visible from bottom of foundation level to top roof of the building (both inside & outside) which pose an immediate danger of structural failure/collapse and cause death to persons.
Subsequent to the prohibition notice issued, the Department of Basic Education was also issued with a contravention notice for failing to conduct a Hazards Identification and risk assessment, failing to ensure that the electrical installation is done safely by a competent person additionally could not produce a copy of the Certificate of compliance (COC) for electrical installation as it is a legal requirement to assure the building users and inspectors that the installation is safe.
The OHS Act 85 of 1993 as amended specifies that if the state of the building threaten or is likely to threaten, the health and/or safety of persons then the building should be prohibited with immediate effect from being occupied or continued used in terms of section 30 of the above said Act.
Acting Provincial Chief Inspector Reckson Tshishivheli said the department is aware of the impact that the closure may have on the curriculum, however the specialist prohibited the school blocks in the interest of safe guarding the lives which is more important than education.
“Our inspectors are mandated to protect the lives of people and we are serious about enforcing the Health and Safety legislation.
“We encourage the public and employees who find themselves in such hazardous situations to bring it to the attention of the department for inspections to be conducted. The department has zero tolerance for non-compliance and will always prioritise the health and safety of persons in both public and private sector,” he said.
The Inspectorate commends the quality of work conducted by the inspectors in enforcing the Labour legislations. The prohibited sections of the school will remain closed until the Department of Education corrects the non-compliance as identified by the OHS Inspector.