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ArcelorMittal South Africa confirms that there has been an incident at its Vanderbijlpark Works which resulted in two employees being unaccounted for.

A portion of a 90 m stack at one of the operation’s coke batteries failed and fell onto the coke battery control room in which the three employees (one has since died) were working.

The cause of the incident is not known at this stage, but the company has launched a full investigation.

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Solidarity also expressed its deepest sympathy with and condolences to the families of the employees affected by the tragedy.

“This is the third incident of its kind at AMSA’s Vanderbijlpark plant during the past 12 months,” Willie Venter, deputy general secretary for the Metal and Engineering sector at Solidarity says.

“It casts suspicion on the integrity of the buildings and structures of this aged plant. It is clearly not safe, and a proper investigation must be launched. We cannot have it that more incidents occur and that the lives of more employees are endangered”.

According to Solidarity, AMSA’s management must conduct a proper risk analysis to determine the underlying causes that give rise to these incidents. Solidarity further contends that, due to the age of the plant, the integrity of the infrastructure and buildings is in doubt, posing an imminent danger to all employees at the plant.

“The safety of employees is non-negotiable. We cannot let our members put their lives at risk simply by reporting for work. AMSA must accept responsibility and should not limit its investigation to a single incident but should endeavour to get to the bottom of all similar events and must address it. Tragedies such as this one must be prevented at all costs.

Solidarity will support any investigation and offers to be part of such an investigation at the plant. Solidarity will assist the investigation by making its knowledge and experience available to it,” Venter concluded.