Curb work-related accidents

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THE fact that the horrific death of a 24-year-old Bulawayo man following a boiler explosion was the second such work-related incident in as many weeks should be cause for alarm.

Claudius Makumbe was working at the Drive Shaft Centre when the boiler he was working on exploded.

It ripped off his stomach and some of his body parts were strewn all over the building. He did not die on the spot — he was taken to the United Bulawayo Hospitals where he breathed his last.

His colleagues were visibly shaken by the incident, which will certainly haunt them for life.

The explosion even shook neighbouring business in Bulawayo’s industrial area as OK Mart shoppers were caught by surprise.

Only last week, a National Foods employee in Bulawayo, Domingo Ndlovu, died a painful death while at work.

According to police, Ndlovu was inside a wagon filled with maize when his workmates opened a valve. This resulted in Ndlovu getting covered by maize grain leading to his sudden death.

However, his family has a different version of events and suspect foul play. It would be irresponsible to comment on what led to Makumbe and Ndlovu’s deaths extensively before those tasked with investigating the incidents conclude their work.

But the accidents point to a very dangerous trend in the state of occupational health in the city’s companies.

The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) has in the past bemoaned the high number of fatal accidents at workplaces.

Some of the fatal accidents go unreported to NSSA and the extent of the problem may never be known.

The tragic deaths should prompt the authority to intensify its inspection of companies to ensure the safety of their workers.

In a city such as Bulawayo where economic activity has been depressed for some time, the problem of companies that pay lip service to the safety of workers in pursuit of elusive profits becomes common.

NSSA should be alive to these realities and remain on top of the situation. Companies that do not meet basic safety requirements should not be allowed to continue putting the lives of their employees at risk.