Inspection capacity of the Department of Labour is to be expanded. The Department has asked the state to fund 100 new inspectors. The new inspectors will be tasked with ensuring proper health and safety in South African workplaces as well as adherence to BEE.
Inspection capacity of the Department of Labour is currently estimated to be around 145 health and safety inspectors. If the request is granted, the department will, almost, double its inspection capacity.
Addressing the Labour Portfolio Committee in Cape Town, the Department of Labour Director General, Thobile Lamati, said they needed to 'address critical areas around Occupational Health and Safety and employment equity (EE) ?¯.
As South Africa has a workforce of 15 320 000 people, the number of health and safety inspectors in this country is a far cry from the international benchmark. Inspection capacity of DoL can, therefore, do with additional capacity.
Lamati stated that 'according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) the occupational health and safety inspection ratio benchmark is one inspector for every 20 000 workers.' That would mean that the country is seriously short of inspectors as this would mean South Africa would need 1011 OHS inspectors.
Re-allocation of budget
According to the Department of Labour, the 100 new Labour inspectors would cost R64-million. 'Expanding the inspection capacity of the department would enable the original idea of specialisation [of Labour inspectors], as approved by the [former] Minster in 2012, ?¯ Lamati motivated.
The R64-million requested, is the budget that initially was taken away from the Department. ?¯It equals the Treasury's withdrawal of some of the Labour budget in the previous financial year, and is thus a re-allocation. ?¯
The request has the approval of Labour portfolio chairperson, Lumka Yengeni. 'We would support the request by Treasury to give back the formerly allocated budget to the department, ?¯ Yengeni confirmed.
The new inspectors will be appointed in terms of section 63 (1) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. They will be vetted with the power to monitor and enforce the following laws;
- Basic Conditions of employment Act
- Compensation for Occupational Injury and Diseases Act
- Employment Equity Act
- Occupational Health and Safety Act
- Unemployment Insurance Act
The small number of health and safety inspectors currently employed by the government explains why still too many companies get away with non-adherence to the South Africa's Occupational Health and Safety Act.
According to the department, three people a day every day are injured from occupational health and safety related incidents. Many deaths are reported in the mining industry, but the death-toll in other industries should not be underestimated. 'We met with employers and told them of their responsibilities in promoting Occupational Health and Safety. We signed OHS Agreements in construction, iron and steel, as well as chemical industries, ?¯ Thobile Lamati says. Workplace compliance is something we would like to see become a standard instead of being a norm.
MAKROSAFE knows too well how much improvement in terms of compliance can be achieved. The MAKROSAFE Health and safety consultants are called out by new customers almost every day, to benchmark their conditions and advise on improvements.
Are you not sure about how compliant your workplace is in terms of health and safety? Give us a call and we will come and assess it immediately.
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