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Managers need driver retraining, says MBA

Managers should undergo driver retraining to raise awareness and competence in managing one of the biggest workplace risks in South Africa.

Master Builders Association North (MBA North) occupational health and safety manager Doug Michell made the call after completing an Advanced Safety Driver’s course at Volkswagen Driving Academy, and starting to test professional drivers on site.

“I strongly recommend that middle to senior management, who spend many hours driving from site to site, enrol for driver retraining. Hijack prevention and reaction tuition, for example, is also extremely important.

“With South Africa having one of the highest per capita road death rates in the world, acquiring defensive driving skills has become a necessity, not a luxury,” Michell said.

“Driver are pressurised to overload bakkies, or are apathetic about road risks. Our campaign is also strongly concentrating on management executives as we believe internal company moves to end the unnecessary carnage should emanate from the top,” Michell said.

“We want employers to include transport management in their management controls, and assign a competent person to scrutinise vehicle checklists and ensure identified problems are resolved.

“Spot checks on the condition and loading practises of company vehicles should also be a management responsibility, and drivers’ capabilities and health should regularly be assessed.”

Construction road accident statistics

Gys McIntosh, of the Federated Employers Mutual Assurance Company (FEM), insurers to the South African building and construction industries, said FEM welcomed the MBA North initiative.

“FEM statistics for the past five years show that over half of fatal injuries in the building sector, nationally and in Gauteng province, were motor vehicle-related.”

Master Builders SA also run a construction drivers test on site at consenting companies, in a bid to reduce construction road incidents.

In Gauteng province, there were 89 construction and contractors road deaths in five years, with 23 in 2013 alone, doubled from 11 the year before.

The number of motor vehicle accidents last year in the Gauteng building industry totalled 401, with another 510 in 2011, according to FEM statistics.

Another 100 road traffic injuries have resulted in permanent disability over the past five years. Master Builders Association (MBA) North has launched a campaign to reduce the number of road fatalities in the building industry in 2013.

Michell added; “MBA North has seen a major improvement in reducing the number of health and safety incidents on construction sites in Gauteng in recent years, but we are still extremely concerned about the shocking and constantly rising number of road fatalities and serious accidents incurred by contractors’ vehicles.

“Just one overloaded light delivery vehicle (bakkie) involved in a serious accident could kill six, seven or more workers.”

MBA North has enlisted transport safety specialist Thabo Training Services to assess participating members’ drivers and contractors on site. The construction drivers test is linked to raising managerial road risk awareness and driving skills.

• To participate in the construction professional driver testing campaign, contact MBA North, or 011 805 661.

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