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Health hazard: Provincial department slams state of mobile classrooms

The Department of Employment and Labour inspectorate in the province recently stopped the use of seven mobile classrooms at Tshikundamalema Secondary School.

LIMPOPO – Non-compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act has led to the abandonment of several mobile classrooms at Tshikundamalema Secondary School at Maramanzhi village near Masisi.

The Department of Employment and Labour inspectorate in the province recently stopped the use of seven mobile classrooms as, Labour spokesperson Mapula Tloubatla confirmed, saying there were several factors that went into the decision.

“The use of classrooms where live electric wires are bare and Distribution Boxes (DB) are open without covers, poses an immediate danger of electrocution and possible death. Furthermore there is an immediate danger of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and possible death to learners that are without mechanical ventilation as the slasses produce excessive heat. “

An additional prohibition notice was issued for an old dilapidated block, which according to Tloubatla poses a danger of collapse. “The block must be secured and no person may be allowed near or even enter the building. Subsequent to the prohibition notice issued, the school was also issued with a contravention notice for failure to adhere to general safety regulations and environmental regulations for workplaces.”

She said the school has failed to ensure that at least more than one person who is readily available during normal working hours, who is in possession of a valid certificate of competency in first aid; provide first aid boxes near the workplace which shall be accessible for the treatment of injured persons at the workplace; and failure to keep all floors and walkways in a good state of repair thus requiring the school to completely close all potholes in classes and walkways.

“The employer also failed to designate in writing a specified Health and Safety Representatives for the workplace or section thereof, failure to allow consultation of employees in the nomination and election of representatives, and provide training to representatives to enable them to carry out their functions as required.” Acting provincial chief inspector Lucia Ramusi said it is important for the Department of Education to ensure that both learners and teachers’ lives are protected at all times.

The non-compliance at the school can result in a tragedy that cannot be reversed if Health and Safety regulations are not adhered to, Tloubatla said.

“Thus, we will monitor the progress and ensure that corrective measures are put in place. As the department, we value education but the health and safety for all persons in workplaces is our utmost priority.”

She said the departments’ inspectorate will continue to heighten efforts around the province to ensure that all workplaces and sectors adhere to labour legislation. The prohibited sections of the school will in the meantime remain closed until the Department of Education corrects the non-compliance.

The chairperson of Tshikundamalema Secondary School, Tsumbedzo Nemakhavhani said it is worrying that over 300 learners, who should be accommodated in mobile classrooms, are forced to go home as the department didn’t allow learning and teaching under the tree. He admitted that some learners were responsible for vandalising the electricity wiring inside the mobile classrooms, leaving the rooms without electricity and air-conditioning in a faulty state.

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