- Government buildings in South Africa are increasingly coming into the spotlight for non- compliance in terms of health and safety.
- It is speculated that they are poorly maintained due to corruption, a lack of training and general incompetence.
- The situation poses a serious risk to the safety and productivity of the people working in government-owned buildings.
Yesterday, members of the Public Servants Association and NEHAWU, two prominent trade union movements representing employees in the public sector in South Africa, gathered outside the building housing the National Health Department in Tshwane. Their workers refused to enter the building for work citing poor health and safety regulation compliance.
This follows after an inspector was dispatched to the building following legal action by unions who complained of respiratory and other health issues caused by their working conditions. This prompted the Labour Department to issue a prohibition order against the National Health Department in Pretoria. The building can only be occupied once it meets occupational health and safety standards.
The protest comes after the deaths of three firefighters at the Bank of Lisbon building in Johannesburg on the 5th September 2018, who died trying to extinguish the building engulfed in flames. It was later discovered that the building had been poorly managed and was largely uncompliant with occupational health and safety regulations, scoring a low 21%. The incident sparked awareness and fear among those working in government buildings across the province.
Pressure is mounting on the government to attend to unsafe buildings. In another incident, Justice Minister Michael Masutha recently shut down Correctional Services’ head office in Tshwane for failing to comply with safety regulations.
Why do you think government buildings have been neglected to cause workers to feel unsafe?
Author: Bryan Groenendaal