Spending R2.5bn a year on health and safety compensation claims in the construction sector has forced the Labour Department to tighten its regulations.
The Department of Labour has found that the construction industry has a less than 50% rate of compliance to health and safety legislative requirements, reported The New Age.
More than six fatalities a month
Federal Employers Mutual Assurance Company (FEM) spokesperson Gys McIntosh said: “There are between 8000 and 9000 accidents every year and between 70 and 90 fatalities.”
Department of Labour chief director: Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), Tibor Szana said the construction industry has been beset with incidents of fatalities for the past 15 years.
Construction incidents keep on coming
“The level of construction incidents seemed to be repeating themselves over and over again,” Szana said.
The construction sector is surpassed by iron and steel sector in terms of large volumes of claims lodged with the Compensation Fund.
Szana asked why the construction industry seemed to be failing to reverse the high levels of fatalities.
Some of the recent incidents include the collapse of the Tongaat Mall that left two dead and 29 workers injured and the collapse of a house in Meyersdal that led to the death of seven workers and the hospitalisation of seven others.
Szana expressed safety concerns when he addressed the department’s construction sector seminar at Emperor’s Palace in Ekurhuleni recently.
Construction inspections & enforcement must improve
The seminar was preceded by a comprehensive and specialised training session targeted at departmental provincial chief inspectors, specialist inspectors, and principal inspectors on the elements of administering of the new Construction Regulation 2014 and the adjudicating of construction permits.
The Construction Work Permit of the Construction Regulation 2014 comes into effect on August 7, and will require registration of health and safety professionals in the construction industry. “Today marks the collaborative effort with the construction industry.
The challenge is to step up inspection and enforcements,” Szana said. He said going forward the department wanted to spend less time with employers.