Poor economic conditions – exacerbated by the Covid-19 lockdown – have tempted many manufacturers to cut back unwisely on health and safety facilities, risking the sustainability of their enterprises.
According to Wim Dessing, sales executive of Apex Strip Curtains & Doors, South Africa already has disproportionally high rates of injuries at work – despite having advanced occupational health and safety (OHS) laws.
“The difficult trading environment certainly makes for tough financial decisions, but safety should always be a priority,” says Dessing. “Employees are the backbone of any business’s capacity to produce and meet deadlines, so they need constant protection – not to mention the regular compliance inspections by the Department of Labour.”
In factories where grinding and welding are carried out, for instance, some manufacturers may resort to makeshift protective structures where solid wall barriers are not feasible to counter UV radiation and weld splatter. These structures might comprise wooden or metal partitions, or even opaque canvas sheeting. They do not comply with the OHS Act, he emphasises, and provide well below-par protection for workers.
“Rather, the responsible route is to install Apex Welding & Safety Screens – which effectively protect workers from weld splatter and fumes, as well as from harmful ultra-violet radiation,” he says. “The screens are manufactured from a specially formulated PVC material, proven by SABS tests to be superior to conventional materials.”
The screens are available in various configurations, the most popular being a freestanding frame for easy handling and portability. They absorb, scatter and filter light for safer working environment, both for the welder and for others in the vicinity. SABS tests show that the screens are more effective than conventional materials for UV transmittance, protecting workers against long-term skin exposure and impact on eyesight.
Dessing notes that the feet of the screens are angled to allow the best use of floor space, and they can be positioned perpendicular to each other.