Tongaat Mall inquiry complete | Infrastructure news

TongaatMallCollapseLabour Minister Mildred Olifant has handed over a report on the Tongaat Mall collapse to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

The mall collapsed on 19 November 2013, killing two people and seriously injuring 29 more. The slab collapse was found to have been caused by a beam that gave way after support work was removed.

Presenting the findings yesterday, Oliphant said investigations found that there had been contraventions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the construction regulations of 2003.

It is currently unclear whether any of the involved parties will face prosecution.


Non-compliance rife

“Investigations and inquiries have revealed that lack of competency in conducting health and safety in the construction industry is a major challenge, followed closely by deliberate ignorance of the provisions of the act and regulations in the interest of maximising profits at the expense of employees,” Olifant said yesterday.

The minister highlighted the fact that as much as 40% of the industry does not comply with health and safety laws. This translates to about 5 000 construction sites across South African where more than half a million construction workers’ lives are placed at risk.

While, things have improved slightly since construction regulations were introduced in 2014, there still room for improvement, said the minister. The number of construction-related fatalities is now at 1,5 deaths per week, down from 2 deaths per week.

This state of non-compliance not only impacts immeasurably the lives and families of the injured and deceased workers, but also costs the department. The Department of Labour (DoL) paid R490 million in the last financial year in compensations of injuries and diseases acquired in the construction industry.

The DoL has finalised the process of amending the occupational health and safety bill in order to ensure that incidents like these are prevented.


Contraventions at Tongaat Mall

According to the DoL, the following contraventions were committed during the construction of the mall:

  1. Contravention of section 4 of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act 103 of 1977 as incorporated in terms of section 44 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 in that the building activity commenced prior to approval by the local authority.
  2. Construction Regulation 4(1) (a) (b) (c) (d) and (e) of the Construction of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 in that the contractor failed to notify Provincial Director or alternatively section 38 (2) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act in that the employer/user omitted to do an act that caused an injury or death of a person.
  3. Contravention of section 8 (1), (2), (b),(d),(e) and (f); section 10(1); section 13(a) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1993 in that the manufacturers did not discharge general duties of manufacturers; and the employer did not discharge duties to inform it’s employees about safety standards.
  4. The designer contravened section 9 in that they failed to discharge general duties of employers to persons other than their employees.

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