Construction accidents decrease


Deon Bester

According to statistics from Federated Employers Mutual Assurance, over the past three years the number of construction related accidents has decreased from 9 150 in 2010 to 7 947 in 2012. The number of fatalities too has declined from 96 to 69 incidents. “Although we have seen some improvement in the number of accidents and fatalities, these figures are still disturbingly high. One accident or one fatality is one too many, says Deon Bester, Occupational Health and Safety Manager for the Master Builders Association of the Western Cape (MBAWC).

It has been found that half of the fatalities experienced in the industry are as a result of motor vehicle accidents. These are accidents that occur when people are being transported to site or from one site to another with the use of a company vehicle and are not directly related to actual construction activities.

"These need to be policed by the traffic department, but this does not appear to be happening, as one simply needs to drive on our roads and observe the way in which people are transported on the backs of open vehicles. However, we, as an industry, must take responsibility for our actions and inactions," says Bester.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act clearly defines the duties of the employer, employees and chief executive officer as well as acts or omissions by employees, in terms of upholding health and safety at work. Furthermore, in 2012, government, organised labour and organised business came together and wrote the Construction Health and Safety Accord, the purpose of which was to promote better occupational health and safety in the construction industry by having this tripartite agreement in place.

“Unfortunately, it seems that to date, the only party doing anything towards improving health and safety is organised business. Despite this, the employer is continuously blamed when accidents happen. While there are employers who ignore the basic health and safety requirements, as set out in the Act and Construction Regulations that are currently under review, anecdotal evidence indicates that 80% of accidents are caused by employees acting unsafely. This contributes to the high number of incidents recorded," says Bester.

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Issue 29


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