ArcelorMittal South Africa confirmed that the bodies of its three missing employees have now all been recovered. All three employees succumbed to injuries sustained in an incident at the company’s Vanderbijlpark Works on 17 February morning in which a portion of a 90 meter stack at one of the operation’s coke batteries failed and fell onto the coke battery control room in which the three employees were working. The families of the employees have been informed and are receiving the necessary support from the company.
The company has launched an investigation into the cause of the incident. All relevant authorities have been notified and have been on site. The company will cooperate fully with their investigations.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa would ask the labor department to investigate the incident and whether ArcelorMittal acted fast enough to find the workers. NUMSA regional secretary for Sedibeng Mr Kabelo Ramokhathali said “This is a terrible and devastating incident, especially for the families of the victims. They have waited and anxiously hoped that their loved ones could be found alive. Unfortunately, that was not to be. We send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of those who have passed away. NUMSA is calling on the Department of Employment and Labour to embark on a detailed and thorough investigation into the cause of this incident.”
NUMSA says ArcelorMittal has been “brutal” in the way it dealt with health and safety concerns raised by the union resulting in the dismissal of a shop steward who exposed poor health and safety protocols at the company prior to this accident.