Ricochet News

Department of Labour to meet stakeholders ahead of formal Meyersdal House Inquiry

Department of Labour to meet stakeholders ahead of formal Meyersdal House Inquiry

The Department of Labour announced on Tuesday that it plans to commence on Thursday (August 28) with an Inquiry following the recent collapse of a house in the Meyersdal Eco-Estate near Alberton - in terms in terms of Section 32 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The accident left seven workers dead and nine in hospital – eight other workers survived.

In a statement, the department said its Senior Specialist for Construction, Health and Safety - Phumudzo Maphaha will chair the meeting after being appointed to head the Section 32 commission of inquiry.

“Maphaha will use Thursday’s meeting to unveil terms of reference of the Meyersdal Structural Collapse Incident Inquiry and details on when the Commission will start its formal hearing. 

“The Section 32 hearing is usually appointed by the Department of Labour against parties whose negligence results in occupational injuries and death of workers,” the department said.

“Maphaha will be assisted in the Meyersdal Structural Collapse Incident Inquiry by Department of Labour’s officials -Principal Inspector, Christo du Preez and Specialist Inspector, Lesibe Raphela.”

Expected at the meeting and formal inquiry will be nine teams with interest in the collapse of the double-storey house. These include the Department of Labour; the owner; foreman; employees; designer; Ekurhuleni City Council; the Engineering Council of South Africa; the National Home Builders Registration Council; and the National Regulator for Compulsory Specification.

Maphaha said Thursday’s meeting was about to introduce all stakeholders to the public and define roles and expectations once the formal Inquiry begins its work. He said the intention of the Commission was to dispose of its work as soon as possible.

“The Inquiry should not waste time on frivolous issues. We intend to have a shorter Inquiry. We want the Commission to begin its work in earnest and by December 2014 we wrap-up our work and prepare a report,” he said he expects the Inquiry to investigate the collapse in Meyersdal to begin its cross-examination of witnesses no later than the end September.

He said the process to subpoena witness will begin in earnest after Thursday’s meeting.

The Meyersdal Eco Estate near Alberton is the second biggest incident in the last 20 years that led to a high number of fatalities, surpassed only by the Injaka Bridge collapse in Mpumalanga that led to the death of 14 workers in 1996.

The Meyersdal Eco Estate house collapsed on August 18.

Meanwhile, the Department of Labour on Monday (August 25, through its Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES) Branch conducted a blitz, which resulted in nine housing projects being stopped in the same area (Meyersdal) - following non-compliance with construction regulations and safety standards.

Photo caption: SITE OF THE ACCIDENT... Seven workers died and nine others were hospitalised after a house in Meyersdal Eco-Estate near Alberton. Photo courtesy of albertonrecord.co.za.