Low health and safety compliance in construction industry | Infrastructure news

The Department of Labour says it has found that the construction industry has a less than 50 percent rate of compliance to health and safety.

This emerged on the eve of the new dispensation coming into effect for the registration of Construction Health and Safety professionals and the implementation of the construction work permit in terms of Construction Regulation 2014.

The Construction Work Permit of the Construction Regulation 2014 comes into effect on 7 August 2015, and will require registration of Health and Safety professionals in the construction industry in order to address the challenge of incompetency in the construction health and safety industry.

History repeats itself

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.

“The level of incidents seemed to be repeating themselves over and over again,” Szana said.

He said the construction sector is surpassed by the iron and steel sector in terms of large volumes of claims lodged with the Compensation Fund, a workers injury and diseases claim fund.

Szana asked why the construction industry seemed to be failing to reverse the high levels of fatalities.

Some of the recent incidents that have put a black mark on the construction industry 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, hospitalisation of seven and survival of eight workers.

Szana was addressing the Department of Labour Construction Sector Seminar held at the Emperor’s Palace, in Boksburg.

The seminar, which was attended by over 650 delegates, was held under theme “Construction Regulation 2014-Implementation Phase”.

Partnerships imperative to safe working environments

Szana said while there were teething problems, these were surmountable.

“Today marks the collaborative effort with the construction industry. The challenge is to step up inspection and enforcements,” he said.

He said going forward the department wanted to spend less time with employers who do what the department expects of them, and pointed out that the department wants to spend more time with those who do not comply.

He reiterated that partnerships in the sector were imperative to healthy and safe working environments.

“We need your assistance … that unnecessary loss of life cannot be tolerated. It is imperative that the industry joins hands with the department to reverse the intolerable loss of life,” he said.

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