Condition of Limpopo school triggers government intervention

  • Multiple areas of the Tshikundamalema Secondary School in Limpopo were shuttered due to non-compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
  • The Department of Employment and Labour highlighted several areas of the school including seven mobile classrooms which need to be repaired.
  • The areas that require repair cannot be entered or used until work has been done to address the safety concerns.

The Department of Employment and Labour has been forced to step in and take action at a school where mobile classes posed a significant risk to the health and safety of learners and teachers.

As many as seven mobile classrooms at the Tshikundamalema Secondary School in Limpopo were shuttered due to non-compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The department says that the classrooms had live electric wires and open distribution boxes without covers that “pose immediate danger of electrocution and possible death to learners”. Worse still, the classrooms lacked sufficient ventilation and there was a risk that learners could suffer heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and potentially death.

In addition to the mobile classrooms, a building at the school is said to pose a danger of collapse and the school has been told that the block should be secured.

“The non-compliance at the school can result in a tragedy that cannot be reversed if the Health and Safety regulations are not adhered to. Thus, we will monitor the progress and ensure that corrective measures are put in place. As the department we value education but the health and safety for all persons in workplaces is our utmost priority,” acting provincial chief inspector, Lucia Ramusi said in a statement.

The Department of Employment and Labour didn’t stop at buildings. The department says that the school has failed to ensure there is at least one person on campus who possesses a valid certificate of competency in first aid. There also aren’t sufficient first aid boxes at the school.

Furthermore, the floors and walkways at the school are described as potholes, pointing to a serious lack of maintenance at the school.

Areas marked as prohibited by the department cannot be entered until the problems outlined by government are addressed.

While it’s good to see intervention from the government, we have to wonder how things got this bad in the first place. Schools, even those constructed by the government, are meant to conduct maintenance independently and in the case of Tshikundamalema Secondary School, this didn’t happen.

Worse, the person in charge at the school “was also found wanting for failing to designate in writing for a specified period Health and Safety Representatives for the workplace or section thereof, failure to allow consultation of employees in the nomination and election of health and safety representatives, and provide training to health and safety representatives in order to enable them to carry out their functions as required.”

Perhaps government should be conducting inspections at schools with more regularity, especially seeing as how this school has seen the development of potholes in the walkways and floors.

[Image – StockSnap from Pixabay]


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