Saldanha Bay Sea Harvest plant temporarily closed for con-compliance with Covid-19 regulations
Saldanha Bay - The employment and labour department (DEL) in the Western Cape has temporarily closed the doors of one of the biggest employers in the West Coast region for non-compliance with the coronavirus (Covid-19) regulations, the department said on Saturday.
Sea Harvest, located in Saldanha Bay on the West Coast north of Cape Town, was served with several prohibition notices on Wednesday after the occupational health and safety (OHS) inspectorate found the plant to be in contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the department said in a statement.
"The department issued prohibition notices for Sea Harvest’s production line and entry points. The prohibition was also extended to sub-contractors who were working on-site. Prohibition notices essentially means that no work may take place at any of the areas where notices were served.
"Sea Harvest, who employs in excess of 1400 workers, was in possession of a risk assessment. However, it did not cover any of the latest Covid-19 regulations. This has been deemed as a major concern, as the employer is confronted with over 80 employees who have been infected with the Covid-19 virus. Furthermore, there was also no social distancing being practiced," the department said.
It was concerning that "some of the big players in the economy" had not been adhering to the Covid-19 regulations, Western Cape DEL chief inspector David Esau said in the statement.
With the West Coast fast becoming a hotspot, all role-players needed to play their part in curbing the spread of the disease. “The employer must provide sufficient evidence that processes have been put in place to address all the concerns raised. As part of reversing the prohibition notice, the employer must also provide evidence that the affected areas have been sufficiently disinfected,” he said.
Inspections at workplaces were not meant to be punitive, but rather to ensure compliance and prevent the spread of the virus at workplaces. “The intention is not to permanently close businesses, but to get businesses to adhere to the Covid-19 regulations as set out in the law,” Esau said.
A follow-up visit would be conducted by the OHS inspector once Sea Harvest had confirmed that all minimum standards had been put in place to ensure the safety of both employees and sub-contractors. If the inspector was satisfied with the efforts of the employer, the prohibition notice would then be lifted.
OHS inspectors would continue to visit workplaces to monitor compliance, act on tip-offs, and implement the necessary actions where required, the statement said.
African News Agency/ANA
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