21 December 2012

Zimbabwe: NSSA to Punish Safety Procedure Offenders

NATIONAL Social Security Authority (Nssa) will shut down companies disregarding occupational health and safety procedures to curb rising workplace fatalities, a senior official has said.

This comes after reports that 67 work related deaths have been reported in the first seven months of this year compared to 47 in the whole of 2011.

According to statistics, a total of 3 850 workers were injured at work between January and July 2012, up from 2 395 in the 12 months in 2011.

Nssa general manager James Matiza told businessdigest last week the state organisation would cancel operations of all delinquent companies until they meet prescribed safety measures as accidents continue to rise, with 16 deaths recorded in October 2012 alone.

"The first thing we can do is to close down a factory when a fatality is reported, inspect it to see the cause of the accident and then our inspectors give recommendations for corrective action. If that is not met then the factory or company is not reopened," Matiza said.

"Secondly, if the employer is found to be reckless or at fault then he/she can be charged. For example, he/she pays all the damages including hospital fees, worker's compensation and in the case of death looks after the deceased's family."

He said most of the fatalities were coming from accidents on the roads where several employees had lost their lives whilst driving a defective company vehicle while on duty.

The impact of frequent work-related accidents, Matiza added, were inflated premiums for a particular sector.

"When we discover that there are more accidents from a particular sector then it means when we review our fees for a New Year we increase for that sector. If we also discover that we have received less than what we paid out from a particular company then we claim the balance from that particular company," he said.

Matiza's remarks come after Nssa regional manager Walter Chagadama last week said work-related accidents and fatalities were increasing as a result of growing economic activity as companies started to increase their capacity utilisation after decade-long economic stagnation. However obsolete equipment and inadequate capital to replace ageing equipment is forcing employers to use antiquated and inadequate facilities, increasing the risk of work related fatalities.

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