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Three big health and safety risks that come from the extended platinum mine strike

by , 26 May 2014
The platinum mine strike has been going on for over 17 weeks. And employers are very aware of the money this is costing them.

But it could cost them even more.

If your employees go on strike for a long period of time, it's just as stressful for them as it is for you. This could push them towards pursuing dangerous habits to cope with their stress.

Read on to discover the health and safety risks that could follow an extended strike at your company.

Do you have more than 20 employees?
Don't ignore this health and safety obligation or else!
The DoL will slap you with a R50 000 fine or 1 year in jail if you don't have a health and safety representative. 

There are three major health and safety risks that can follow a strike

For your employees, there's a lot of stress that comes with going on strike. Even if they aren't striking, it's still stressful because striking fellow employees could intimidate and even attack them.
Your employees may not have the money to get counselling to deal with the stress in safe way.
Because of this, they may turn to self-medicating with drugs and alcohol or even participate in illicit sex to ease the stress. 
This is, in turn, will lead to the following serious health and safety risks…
Legally dismiss striking employees without being taken to the CCMA...
When it comes to dismissing a striking employee if you don't follow the right procedures you could be taken to the CCMA...
Discover how you can avoid being taken to the CCMA by legally dismissing a striking employee.

The health and safety risks that stem from drugs, alcohol and illicit sex

If your employees are taking drugs their reaction may be slower. This means they won't be able to respond if they're in danger or if their colleagues are in danger.
If you have a Drug-Free Workplace Policy, you can include mandatory drug testing in it. This means if you think one of your employees is on drugs, you can test them.
Forcing returning employee to take a medical exam will also alert you to any drugs that may be in his system.
Alcohol dependency
Alcohol dependency is one of the biggest problems that can come from a stressful situation such as a strike. Alcohol impairs your employees mental and physical responses and affects basic functions like balance and speech.
The Health and Safety Advisor says you can include breathalysing in your drug and alcohol policy. If you suspect your employee is drunk, you can ask him to take a breathalyser test. If your employee fails the breathalyser test, you can discipline him according to your policy.
Ilicit Sex
SheqAfrica says illicit sex can lead to an increased HIV rate. Not only can this further cripple your business, it also raises health risks. 
If an infected employee has an accident which leads them having an open wound, their blood could infect those that try and help him.
You can't ask an employee about their HIV status, so make sure you have a policy and procedure in place for dealing with blood. 
There you have it. If your workers are returning from strike, you must ensure they haven't picked up any habits that can cause workplace hazards.

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