Scaffolding halts BCM project

The Department of Labour this week stopped refurbishing work on a Buffalo City Metro municipal building after it was found the scaffolding did not meet regulations, posing a danger to workers and passers-by.

The alarm bells were rung by an East London scaffolding company, DG Contracting, after it noticed the structures did not comply with legal standards.

RICKETY STRUCTURE: Scaffolding on Fleet Street and Oxford Street during a refurbishment at the BCM’s Munifin Centre deemed dangerous to workers and residents. The Department of Labour stepped in and halted all work until contractors met requirements Picture: BRANDON REYNOLDS

DG Contracting’s Ernest Genders intervened at the Oxford and Fleet streets site where workers had been refurbishing BCM’s Munifin Centre. He called the Department of Labour and asked them to inspect if regulations were not violated by the clearly “illegal structure”.

“I could see that they [workers] were not using the correct equipment and two weeks ago I called them [Department of Labour] and they assured me that they would do something about it.

“But the problem is that the job is almost complete.”

The department stepped in earlier this week and halted all work done on the scaffolding.

When the Saturday Dispatch arrived at the site this week, work had been halted until Monday according to the site manager, Roger Esben of L2K Trading.

“We are in the process of rectifying the area and we are in the process of making provision to meet all the necessary regulations and while this is taking place work had to be stopped.

“Most of the work had been completed on the building and we will resume with the project on Monday,” Esben said.

He admitted that a few things were overlooked before the job started but have since been attended to. “We will be closing up the area to restrict anyone walking on the street from being injured and make sure our guys are following protocol.”

BCM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya welcomed the intervention by the labour department.“We have addressed the issues raised by the regulatory department and we are optimistic that the site will be fully compliant when they come for a follow-up inspection,” he said.

“We will also adhere to the fact that the institution’s occupational and safety office will be part of the project moving forward.”

Ngwenya said the municipality was mindful of the fact that issues of compliance, public safety and liability were extremely important as well. Genders told the Dispatch that two major scaffolding companies pulled out of the city due to contracts being awarded to smaller companies who evaded regulations.

“We specialise in the erection of scaffolding and over the past two years I have noticed that there are multiple scaffolding structures that do not comply with the regulations.

“What we have noticed is that these smaller companies take chances to complete the job without complying with safety regulations and by the time the safety officer or the Department of Labour gets involved the job is complete.

“It not only poses a danger to the people working on the scaffolding but it is a huge concern for pedestrians because if they are not using the correct equipment then imagine if something were to fall, it could be detrimental,” Genders said. — oreillya@timesmedia.co.za

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