Mechanics operating in the Oranjesig suburb say they are experiencing a problem with people working form their homes and even with those renting workshops who are not complying with the Health and Safety occupational laws.
National Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (Miwa), Dewald Ranft, said they want to know who gets regulated and when. “For example, there’s a panel-beating business across the street which is currently respraying cars without a spray booth. Who gets regulated? I have an acquaintance who worked from his house and within two weeks the Department of Labour was there. He was given a fine and told he can’t work from his house. When we enquired about this, the department said that this is not an industrial area, its residential; there are houses there and an old age home just opposite as you go down the street,” said Ranft.
“One side of the matter is them not complying, but the other side is, for me as registered mechanic, I actually need to charge R180 to fit brake pads. But for someone who doesn’t have any overheads, he can then charge R40. It’s not fair towards me. I have to have fire extinguishers, I have to show a certificate for my drained oil, I have to have a sump at my washbay to ensure that the oil does not go into our sewerage system. The costs of safety equipment for my employees and the servicing of my equipment are all costs I have to cover,” he added.
In efforts to find a solution, Miwa representative in FS/NC region, Reemo Swartz, has reached out to various entities for assistance, but he has been sent from pillar to post with no avail. “I’ve called Labour, who referred me to the Department of Environmental Affairs, but they transferred me from one person to another and I eventually gave up. The guy at Labour actually told me that he can’t do anything. I also spoke to another guy at the municipality who goes out to mechanics working from their homes and if there’s a complaint he actually issues a fine. He said I should give him the addresses of these places, he’ll look into it but that was another dead end,” he explained.
Spokesperson for the Department of Labour, Josial Ramokoena, said that the department is not aware of this matter. “We conduct inspections on regular basis within the iron and steel industry, and many other industries for that matter. Just to give you a brief background, we conducted a total of 68 OHS inspections in companies which fall in this industry between April and June 2019. 17 of those companies did not comply, with two prohibition notices issued,” he said.
Ramokoena added that they have proactive inspections, which are conducted without receiving any complaints. “Our inspectors do have targets allocated for such. We also conduct reactive inspections. These are inspections emanating from complaints received. Over and above that, we have working relations with other law enforcement agencies such as SAPS, who also assist us in identifying some of the companies they think we should conduct inspections on,” he concluded.
The municipality had not responded to Bloemfontein Courant’s media enquiry at the time of print. – Seithati Semenokane