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Govt wants probe into chicken farm death

Apr 07 2011 21:12 Sapa

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Durban - Labour Minister Nelisiwe Oliphant on Thursday called for a full investigation into the death of a worker killed at a chicken farm in Hammarsdale near Durban.

In a statement released late on Thursday, she said she was calling for an "immediate probe and full-scale occupational health and safety investigation" into the death that occurred at a Rainbow Chicken [JSE:RBW] processing plant on Wednesday.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions, who identified the worker as Eric Nhlangulela, also called for an investigation into the death of a worker who was killed at a chicken farm.

According to the department, preliminary investigations had revealed that Nhlangulela was adjusting crates of live chickens on a moving conveyor belt when the accident occurred.

It is alleged that as he attempted to remove chickens that had fallen out of the crates, his neck was crushed by a hydraulic scissor lifting machine, known as a Hymolift.

Oliphant vowed that a thorough investigation would be undertaken.

Cosatu's KwaZulu-Natal secretary general Zet Luzipo said Cosatu was disappointed that the department had allowed work to continue at the farm before investigations were completed.

He said that it had appeared that Nhlangulela had been forced to extract some chickens that had become stuck in a sorting machine when the accident happened.

Netcare 911 spokesperson Chris Botha confirmed the accident, saying that paramedics had unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate Nhlangulela, who was declared dead at the scene. He said Nhlangulela had suffered severe injuries to the neck.

Luzipo said: "We are quite saddened and shocked by this tragic loss of life, due to carelessness and absolute disregard of safety in the workplace.

"We have been, strangely so, kept in the dark about this incident even by the department of labour. We demand a thorough investigation on this matter."

Rainbow chicken spokesperson Stephen Heath could not be reached for comment, but the Isolezwe newspaper reported that he confirmed the accident.

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