THIRTY-FOUR people died at work and 1 507 were injured at work in the first three months of the year, a trend the government says is worrying.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare deputy minister Tongai Muzenda yesterday said the figures showed a slight increase from the 33 who died and 1 446 that were injured last year.
Addressing the World Day for Safety and Health at Work organised by the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) in Bulawayo, Muzenda said the increasing deaths were a cause for concern.
“There has been a noticeable increase in the number of occupational injuries and deaths at work places in the country with reports showing the first three months of this year having more injuries and deaths than the same period last year,” he said.
“The increase is a cause for concern and must be addressed immediately, especially considering that many manufacturing industries are based on different chemicals and dangerous machinery and these same chemicals and machines are causing countless injuries and deaths.”
Muzenda said occupational accidents represented a considerable economic burden for workers, employers and society at large.
“There can be no work more rewarding and fulfilling than safeguarding the well-being of workers so that they contribute to the resuscitation of the economy,” he said.
Muzenda urged workers and employers to work with the government in ensuring the decrease if not the elimination of occupational deaths and injuries.
NSSA regional manager Vusa Mdlongwa said it was disheartening that many workers had either lost their lives or sustained injuries in the workplace.
He said such accidents were a cost to the country’s economy adding that there was a need to invest in occupational safety and health for sustainable growth.
The event was held after Bulawayo recorded two work-related deaths in March.
Claudius Makumbe died at United Bulawayo Hospitals from injuries sustained after a boiler he was operating exploded at his workplace, Driveshaft Centre, ripping him into pieces.
Domingo Ndlovu died after being choked to death by grain at National Foods when his colleagues opened a valve for a wagon carrying maize while he was still inside.