Government urges organisations to abide by health and safety rules

The Department of Labour and Employment has stated that it is committed to prioritising the health and safety of workers and everyone involved in the workplace.

This comes in the wake of the collapse of the George building in the Western Cape, where 34 people were confirmed dead.

Nineteen other people remain unaccounted for and 28 are recovering at various hospitals and homes.

The department’s spokesperson, Tebogo Thejane, said: “With the loss of lives and the entrapment of individuals, this incident has sparked a call to action for organisations to re-evaluate their health and safety protocols and practices.

“As we reflect on this tragic event, it is imperative to recommit ourselves to the principle that no job is worth risking the safety or lives of employees.

“Every effort must be made to prevent similar incidents in the future.”

Thejane added that it is paramount to redouble efforts to promote a culture of safety, vigilance, and accountability within organisations.

Commitment to health and safety is essential

“It is a collective responsibility to honour the memory of those lost by ensuring that their lives were not lost in vain.

“Strengthening the commitment to health and safety is essential. Let us work together to prevent such tragedies from occurring again,” he said.

In terms of the department’s processes, said Thejane, it will await the official hand over of the site to enable its officials to proceed with investigations as per Sections 31 and 32 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

At the weekend, Sunday World reported that many other workers escaped the tragedy and were in hiding, scared for their lives.

They stated that they did not want to be questioned about how they escaped the building collapse.

Investigations are also under way to establish the cause of the building collapse.

Construction firm registered with NHBRC

The National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) spokesperson, Portia Sebulela, said Liatell, a construction company that was responsible for the project, is registered with the NHBRC.

The NHBRC does not rank homebuilders.

“The investigation [into the building collapse] is ongoing. As a regulator in the homebuilding industry, the NHBRC’s mandate is to protect the housing consumer and regulate homebuilders,” said Sebulela.

“The George building collapse is the biggest construction disaster of our time. This is a subject of concern and learning.

“The NHBRC sends its heartfelt condolences to all those affected by this ordeal.”

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