Occupational safety at old Curomed health facility must be urgently addressed

By Harold McGluwa MPL, DA Northern Cape Provincial Spokesperson of Health:

Concerns regarding the occupational safety of Kimberley Hospital’s new Orthopaedic and Opthalmology Centre have prompted the DA to engage the Northern Cape Health MEC, Mac Jack, on this matter.

The DA has written to Jack, (see letter attached) requesting him to provide a status report on the physical layout of the facility, particularly the positioning of the emergency exit points. The DA also wants Jack to give an indication as to whether the department is in possession of current Local Fire Authority certificates that show the health establishment complies with relevant fire safety regulations.

This comes amidst fears that, in the case of an emergency such as an explosion, the theatres pose a safety hazard to staff and patients alike. Not only are the theatres situated a long distance from the stairs but the lift situated next to the theatres is also broken. There is thus currently no way to evacuate bed-bound patients from the theatres. This is disturbing. Studies on operating room fire safety indicate that intraoperative fires occur more commonly than most people recognize. Such risks should therefore always be taken seriously.

The DA wants Jack to urgently address the physical challenges at the old Curomed facility in order to eliminate preventable safety risks. He must also ensure that a comprehensive fire safety program is in place for this facility and that all key players, including surgery and anesthesia department members, are involved in the education and preparation process.

The National Core Standards for Health Establishments in South Africa prescribes that health establishments must comply with infrastructure standards and that people are protected from workplace hazards through effective occupational health and safety systems.

The Northern Cape Health Department has no time to waste in taking determined action to create a safer healthcare environment for every worker, patient and visitor.

The DA will monitor the situation. Should the provincial department not adequately address the respective safety challenges, we will not hesitate to call on the Labour Department to conduct a thorough health and safety inspection of the facility.