According to the Federated Employer’s Mutual Assurance Company (FEM), which provides cover to employers in the construction industry, 7 721 injuries occurred nationally amongst policy holdersduring 2015.
This resulted in 61 fatalities, 603 permanently disabled persons and 34 385 lost man days. Deon Bester, Occupational Health and Safety Manager at the Master Builders Association of the Western Cape (MBAWC), says,
“The rate of accidents in the construction industry still remain unacceptably high.”In the Western Cape alone, the number of accidents that have taken place over the past five years has risen by an average of 12.00% year on year. Between 2011 and 2015 there were 18 deaths and202 permanent disabilities resulting from accidents. Furthermore, 29 671 man hours were lost and the average cost per accident stood at R17 532,20.
He continues, “The Western Cape remains one of the provinces with the highest accident frequency rate. At a current rate of 3.7%, versus the national average of 2.67%, we are 28% worse than the average. In other words, we have 28% more accidents per 100 people employed in the construction industry. Whilst this is a very high variation, figures would indicate that we have less severe accidents
based on the average cost of an accident. The current national average is R27 244 per accident whilst we are at R 15 813 per accident – 42% less.” “In 2015, the Western Cape only had one fatality in 2015 compared with 12 in Kwa-Zulu Natal, 29 in the Gauteng region, 11 in the Free State, three in the Eastern Cape and five in the Northern Boland.
Undoubtedly, one fatality is one too many and we should be striving for zero fatalities and zero harm -a target we believe is achievable,” states the Occupational Health and Safety Manager. To achieve this target, he suggests improving the skills of employees in the industry, providing proper
training for employees and arranging adequate supervision. He also advises using the correct, qualitytools for the job and utilising proper fall prevention equipment. In addition, Bester recommends regular drug screening and alcohol testing. “These are just a few of the basic interventions required,” shares Bester.
“The construction industry, from large corporates to small sub-contractors, needs to take ownership of health and safety. Good health and safety practices in the workplace must be as important as ensuring turnover and providing a quality product and service on time to the end user. Only once health and safety carries the same weight as cost, quality and time will we see a reduction in accidents in the industry,” concludes Bester.