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OPERATIONS at a potato farm in Bainsvlei, outside Bloemfontein, have been suspended after its workers were found working in unsafe conditions.
Free State Labour Department spokesperson Wisani Mavasa said yesterday a team of provincial labour inspectors, led by Marsha Bronkhorst, visited the Saaiman Boerdery farm onFriday.
The team, which included the Mangaung municipality's environmental health unit and Human Rights Commission, issued prohibition notices on the use of all sorting and packaging machinery on the farm.
The farmer, who employs about 50 workers, was issued with various notices of the contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
These included notices for not providing proper personal protective equipment to all workers and not having a valid certificate of compliance for electricalinstallations.
The notices were valid until the farmer conducted proper induction training for workers in using the machines.
All the dangerous machines were safeguardedin terms ofthe Occupational Health and Safety Act.
"We are not going to allow situations where an employer puts his profit before the wellbeing of the workers," Bronkhorst said.
"In this case it is obvious that the employer has not even tried to put anything in place in the interest of his workers' health and safety. As Department of Labour we have to demonstrate strong intolerance of each and every employer who refuses to obey the law."
The labour team also found that the farmer had disregarded the Basic Conditions of the Employment Act's Sectoral Determination for Farm Workers and was paying his workers salaries less than that stipulated in the legislation.
There were no contracts of employment and copies of payslips or any other records available at the farm business.
The farm's workers also did not have proper sleeping and ablution facilities, and food provided to them "was not of an acceptable standard".
The farmer was ordered to comply with the legislation within 21 days or face the full might of the law. - Sapa