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Govt warns employers on workers’ safety

Mohalenyane Phakela

THE government has warned employers and employees against gross negligence or the deliberate failure to abide by safety requirements which cause accidents in the work place.

The warning was issued by the Ministry of Labour and Employment representatives, Seilatsatsi Selebalo and ‘Manaleli Sehlabi during a symposium that was held by the Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) in Maseru on Friday.

The symposium is part of a series of workshops being held to create awareness among the contractors and other stakeholders on Safety, Occupational Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ). They are also aimed at creating awareness of the necessary insurances available to contractors in the event of work-related accidents.

The Friday workshop was attended by representatives of companies that have been contracted by the LEC to install electrical equipment in different villages as part of the rural electrification drive.

It was also attended by officials from the Labour ministry’s Occupational Safety and Health Department as well as representatives of LEC’s insurance broker Minet Insurance.

The LEC Risk Management Department was represented by Maema Mothobi, Mat?eliso Moremoholo, Thabiso Mathafeng, Mosili Let?ela and Puseletso Leshoella.

In her presentation, Ms Sehlabi stressed the importance of complying with the provisions of the Labour Code Order 24 of 1992 to avoid or reduce accidents in the workplace.

“The employer is mandated by law to provide employees with protection equipment or clothing at all times and ensure good working relations to allow employees to freely report accidents,” Ms Sehlabi said.

“The law requires each firm to have a safety officer if employees are more than 100 but if the nature of the job is dangerous, a safety officer, registered with Ministry of Labour, is required regardless of the number of employees.”

Minet Insurance representative, Maphano Matsoso, said it was every employer’s duty “to comply with the Workmen’s Compensation Act no. 13 of 1977 which forces them to cover work related accidents, industrial diseases or death”.

“Once there has been an accident that causes death or more than three days of incapacity, a compensation claim has to be made where three WC9 forms have to be filled- one copy for the employer and others for the labour commissioner and the employee.

“The challenges we face are mostly to do with the failure or delay in reporting accidents and making claims. Sometimes the employer does not even have workmen’s compensation insurance,” she said, adding it was important for contractors to have the Contractors All Risk policy which covers employees, equipment and third party damages.

Ms Moremoholo and Ms Let?ela said good relations with LEC customers was one of the key issues that needed to be maintained at all times.

“Before starting work at any area, ensure that you have made the area chief aware and that you do not destroy people’s property because people tend to interfere with the work being done if relations are not smooth.

“The other thing to avoid is hazardous waste which contaminates water, soil and pollutes the air as that may be dangerous to a community residing in such an area,” Ms Let?ela said.

The LEC also educated the contractors about its procurement procedures, metering, compliance with engineering standards, observation of safety measures, use of proper tools, hazards identification and risk assessment.

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