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Mozambique’s General Inspectorate of Labour has ordered the closure of a foundry in Boane district, about 30 kilometres west of Maputo, when it was found that this factory posed a threat to the life and health of its workers.
A press release from the Labour Ministry says that the company “Internacional Ferro e Aço” (International Iron and Steel) exposed its workers to poisoning, contagious diseases, physical incapacitation and possible loss of life.
An inspection of the factory, lasting from 31 May to 2 June, the release said, found that the workers were working “under inhuman conditions”. They had no protective equipment such as gloves, face masks, goggles, industrial earplugs, or fireproof clothing.
The bathroom scarcely functioned since it had no shower, no taps, no piped water and no soap. Water was escaping from the cooling system of the machinery, and the workplace was generally dirty. Electricity cables that were not properly insulated were visible in places where people were moving, and thus posed a threat of electrocution.
Furthermore, smelting operations were not mechanized but were undertaken manually, thus exposing the workers to high temperatures. They had no protection for working with iron, even at room temperature. They were in danger of being cut by fragments of metal, and of inhaling fumes from the casting of metals.
Some of the workers had already suffered serious injuries including amputation of fingers, burns, loss of vision and respiratory problems.
The Labour Inspectorate thus acted under a decree of 2009 which gives labour inspectors power to shut down workplaces “in cases of clear danger to the life or physical integrity of the workers”.
The factory will be closed for at least 60 days. It can only be reopened if the smelting process is mechanized, if piped water, taps, and showers are installed in the bathrooms, and if all the workers are provided with adequate protective equipment. In addition all electric wiring must be insulated, corridors and walkways must be properly signposted, and all workers must be given regular medical check-ups.
Only when these conditions are met to the satisfaction of the General Labour Inspectorate will the factory be allowed to re-open.Source: AIM