Home News Explosion investigation uncovers lapses in safety protocol

Explosion investigation uncovers lapses in safety protocol

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An investigation into the explosion that claimed the life of Sol Plaatje municipal electrical assistant, Enrico Jose Convivious, 40, has found that not all safety measures were followed while the substation was ‘live’ when the electrical workers entered the Herlear street substation.

Family members Bianca Convivious, Julia Walls and Alice Manuel. Picture Soraya Crowie

AN INVESTIGATION into the explosion that claimed the life of Sol Plaatje municipal electrical assistant Enrico Jose Convivious, 40, found that not all safety measures were followed. The substation was “live” when electrical workers entered the Herlear Street substation on May 14.

Convivious, who died after sustaining severe burn injuries while attending to a cable fault at the time of the incident, will be buried on Saturday.

The bereaved family has indicated that they intend pursuing legal action against the municipality.

Meanwhile, South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) local chairperson Daily Semau stated that they were still awaiting delivery of the personal protective equipment (PPE) that was promised to workers last week.

“Workers agreed to suspend strike action and will meet with the municipal manager next week,” Semau told the DFA. “A memorial service was held on Thursday for Convivious.”

Semau said that he believed that Convivious would not have suffered such critical injuries had he been provided with the proper PPE.

Sol Plaatje municipal electrical assistant Enrico Convivious was allegedly not provided with the necessary safety gear when he was attending to a cable fault at the Herlear sub-station. Picture: Supplied

While the investigation into the incident is still ongoing, Teboho Thejane, spokesperson for the Department of Labour and Employment, stated that preliminary findings suggest the cause of the explosion was a ring main unit (RMU) that may not have been fully isolated. The RMU is a medium voltage switchgear used in electrical power distribution systems.

“This led to work being conducted on a live system. It appears that not all safety precautions and regulations were followed,” Thejane told the DFA. “Documents such as risk assessments, job cards, and lockout procedures requested by the principal inspector were not provided by the employer.

“This indicates potential lapses in safety protocol.”

He indicated that possible negligence was suspected due to the lack of provided safety documentation and the possibility that work was conducted on a live system without proper isolation.

“Based on preliminary findings, it is possible that the fatality could have been avoided if proper safety measures and isolation procedures had been followed.”

Thejane added that no information was provided in the preliminary report regarding a shortage of PPE.

“Further investigation is required to determine if PPE shortage was a contributing factor.”

He indicated that there was no evidence at this time to suggest that the substation was tampered with or vandalised.

Thejane explained that employees who died as a result of work-related injuries or diseases were entitled to death benefits in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, including the reimbursement of reasonable funeral expenses.

“Dependants of the deceased employee are entitled to a lump sum payment which is calculated as a percentage of the employee’s earnings at the time of death.

“The dependants may also receive a monthly pension, which is calculated based on a percentage of the employee’s monthly earnings.”

He added that the spouse and children could also claim death benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Act (UIA) including a lump sum payment and an amount based on the employees’ Unemployment Insurance Fund contributions.

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