Not a single state health facility in Gauteng has been assessed as complying with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
This bombshell information is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
According to Masuku “all facilities audited received either a noncompliance finding, such as a contravention and/or improvement compliance notice and fire contravention.”
The following facilities were the most non-compliant:
Bheki Mlangeni Hospital
Far East Rand Hospital
Ekurhuleni district clinics
Johannesburg district clinics
Bheki Mlangeni was built only five years ago, but faces a host of serious safety risks that include the following:
- psychiatric patients escaping through fire escape doors who are a risk to themselves and others
- chained exit doors risk to patients and employees in case of fire or emergency
- roof leaks on rainy days
- air-conditioning extremely hot in summer and extremely cold in winter due to design problem, also leads to cancellation of operations
- accident and emergency overcrowded leading to cross infection
- records section overflowing with patient files, fire escape doors blocked
- existing fire alarm systems are not functioning properly
Other hospitals at high risk include the following:
- Tembisa Hospital – non-compliance in stores and main kitchen, and faulty pressure equipment.
- Far East Rand Hospital – not compliant due to unavailability of emergency exit routes and fire detection system in most parts of the hospital.
- Mamelodi Hospital – dysfunctional ventilation system in accident and emergency unit.
- Kopanong Hospital – employees at risk of being trapped inside the freezer, leaking roofs, peeling walls, plugs in wards not SABS compliant, redundant fire hydrants, storm water and sewer pipes frequently blocking.
These are alarmingly high safety risks and worse, we only know the risks in those facilities that have been audited, whereas most of them have not.
I am dismayed that occupational safety has been so neglected at Gauteng hospitals and clinics, endangering staff and patients.
We were lucky that no lives were lost when there was a fire at the Bheki Mlangeni Hospital earlier this year, but safety measures need to be stepped up at all hospitals.
It highlights once again how grossly unprepared the provincial health department is for the planned National Health Insurance (NHI) which requires properly accredited high quality health facilities.
The Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital in west Johannesburg has 954 identified building defects and contravenes the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) in a number of areas.
This is revealed by Infrastructure Development MEC Jacob Mamabolo in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
According to Mamabolo, the hospital is 69 years old and “is ageing fairly well. Its condition is average”.
But the following areas need repairs and/or upgrade:
- Mechanical – the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is in poor condition, especially in theatres and the boilers
• Electrical – there is a need for more plug points and better lighting
• Roof – needs to be water-proofed throughout the facility
• Windows and doors need maintenance
Mamabolo says that there is R7.1 million in the budget this year for preventative maintenance at the hospital, but this money “is not enough to cater for all defects at this institution.”
He says there is a “New Maintenance Approach which will include a rolling plan for three consecutive years”.
I am greatly concerned that there is insufficient budget to fix all the defects and that the emergency fire escape, infection control and waste management contravene legislation on building safety.
I hope that the new approach to maintenance ensures a proper refurbishment of this historic hospital so that it provides a safe and comfortable environment for mothers giving birth.
Willow Crescent Secondary School
The DA visited the Willow Crescent Secondary School in Eldorado Park, Johannesburg, to assess infrastructure conditions as classrooms were burnt down 5 years ago.
Since the fire in the 2011, three classroom have not been repaired. Conditions at the school are appalling and not conducive to teaching or learning.
The school structures are in violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and has been served with an order to comply with Environmental Health Standards.
The schools lights don’t function, classrooms have no doors, toilets are not meeting norms and standards and ceilings are falling apart.
Despite the crumbling infrastructure, Willow Crescent has managed a Matric pass rate of 73% in the 2015 academic year.
The DA has submitted questions to the MEC for oral reply in the Legislature to establish whether there are any plans to fix the deteriorating infrastructure.
The DA will propose alternative solutions to prioritise school infrastructure in this year’s budget debate vote.
Conducive learning and teaching environments are non-negotiable. Instead of spending R90 million in building one school, the MEC must focus on getting the basics right in all schools in the province.
Khume Ramulifho MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education
082 398 7375