Too many workers dying at workplace

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Eveline de Klerk

SWAKOPMUND – Despite 46 seamen and construction workers dying from work-related fatal injuries, or while at work, there is yet to be an employer who is criminally charged and prosecuted for failing to ensure the safety of workers at the workplace.

This is all the while cases involving fatal injuries at work are referred to the Office of the Prosecutor General, said Victor Hamunyela, the secretary general of the Namibia Wholesale and Retail Workers Union as well as the Namibia Building Workers Union.

For Hamunyela this is an indication the prosecutor general appears to attach little priority to cases involving deaths of workers.

The 46 deaths of workers were recorded between April 2017 and April 2018, according to Hamunyela.
“Instead such incidences are subjected to lengthy investigations, as labour cases are not given priority and those left behind by the deceased are further plunged into poverty,” he said, adding that this despite cases where investigations have shown negligence on the part of the employer.

“Both unions, and the Office of the Labour Commissioner and Office of the Prosecutor General should take up a more proactive role and hold employers liable when death is caused by negligence,” he said.
Hamunyela added that unions themselves should also make sure that the working conditions and safety measures of their members are implemented to ensure that no lives are lost during work.

“Death of productive workers not only puts a strain on the family but compromises their social and emotional well-being, and if we can by all means make sure that safety measures are implemented and negligent employees are prosecuted, we will be able to minimise death during duty,” he said.

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