The Food and Allied Workers Union in South Africa (FAWU) said it is still horrified over the tragic incident July 13 that caused the deaths of numerous farm workers in Mpumalanga.
According to the union, these types of accidents are sadly becoming a common occurrence in the country in which farm workers are still being transported in open trucks. [WCx]
In this incident, union officials say it appears the truck driver tried to cross the railway between Malelane and Hectorspruit when a train smashed into it. Nineteen workers died on the spot and two others died on their way to hospital after the driver of truck transporting 45 workers to an orange farm did not stop at a railway crossing and collided with a train. Twenty-four of the workers were seriously injured and were taken to different hospitals in the area.
FAWU noted the incident reaffirms the need for government to step in and ban the transport of farm workers in open trucks without any safety mechanisms as well as to implement more stringent mechanisms to ensure railway safety. It has been reported that there were no visible railway crossing signs warning drivers of passing trains. [WCx]
FAWU went on to say that it is also ironic that the incident took place at one of the sites meant to spearhead the Department of Labour’s (DOL) plan to improve health and safety on farms. To this end, FAWU is also participating in the Department’s efforts to improve occupational health and safety in agriculture through the National Tripartite Technical Committee.
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