Labour inspectors get to work after PPE is finally secured in the Northern Cape
Cape Town - Inspectors from the Department of Labour have started conducting occupational safety and health inspections in the Northern Cape this week.
This comes after the department managed to secure supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for its inspectors.
"We took a decision that because of the shortage of supply of PPE that our inspectors don't go out to do inspections. The supplies took some time to reach Northern Cape," director general Thobile Lamati said.
"We have managed to get supplies to our inspectors. As of yesterday inspections were conducted," Lamati said.
"It was important that inspectors were well equipped with PPE," he added.
He made the statement on Wednesday when he briefed two parliamentary committees via a virtual meeting. Lamati also said it was important for employers to protect the health and safety of workers.
"It has become clear to us that there are areas which really have no regard for the health and safety of workers. We want to appeal to the employers to protect the workers. If you give money and they contract disease, you have not done anything.
"If there was a time for a duty for caring to be shown by employers, it is now," he said.
Lamati told MPs there was a 45% non-compliance by employers across the country as at April 15.
There were 1 135 inspections conducted with 621 compliance and 514 non-compliance.
Lamati said 617 non-compliance notices were served on employers by their employers.
There were employers who were nabbed for operating while not classified to provide essential services.
Others were in possession of false certificates to operate as essential services, while others failed to implement measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Lamati also said one of the challenges was hospitals and health facilities that did not have appropriate PPE for high-risk areas.
"The shortage globally further exacerbated the issue until inspectors get appropriate PPE," he said.
Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said the safety and health of workers was important and non-negotiable. He said there was a severe shortage of PPE supplies.
"After the lockdown we will need these en-masse."
He said a plan was being worked out to ensure that the procurement of PPE did not go only to the "big boys" but also benefited even township small businesses.
"It can't be only people who have always been there who benefit," Nxesi added.
Al-jamaah's MP Mogamad Hendricks said they were concerned about the alarm raised about health and safety of workers. He said companies' management should commit to health precautions.