Department of Labour to sign a Construction Health and Safety Accord to help stem casualty list
23 Aug 2012
The Department of Labour (DoL) on behalf of Government will tomorrow oversee the signing of a Construction Health and Safety Accord agreement with other social stakeholders, as part of an effort to improve the status of occupational health and safety in the construction sector in South Africa.
The Department of Labour and Department of Public Works; together with labour federations, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa), and the National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu) together with business federations the Black Business Council Built Environment (BBCBE), the South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors (Safcec) and Master Builders South Africa will all participate in the signing ceremony.
The Construction Health and Safety Accord ceremony will be signed tomorrow (August 24) at Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg. The event will start at 8h30.
The signing ceremony will be preceded by presentations by various stakeholders including the Department of Labour Chief Inspector Mr. Thobile Lamati, and Department Public Works Director-General Mandisa Fatyela-Lindie.
At a conference organised by the DoL’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) aimed at improving workplace health and safety under the theme: “Road to Zero” in March, the department announced that its public entity, the Compensation Fund paid over R2.7-billion in the 2010/2011 year in compensation for injuries and diseases sustained in the workplace in the five high risk sectors.
The building and construction sector, identified as one of high risks sectors paid more than R287-million for occupational injuries.
According to DoL Manager: Occupational Health and Safety Phumudzo Maphaha in the period from 2007-2010 there were 171 fatalities and 755 injuries.
The DoL lamented that while its endeavour is to protect vulnerable workers, monitoring the impact of legislation, South Africa continues to be plagued by lack of adherence to occupational health and safety Act, resulting in injuries and deaths in the workplace. The effects are loss of income due to a halt in production and a decline in gross domestic product.
The department is currently reviewing legislation to stem the tide and is also intent on stepping up inspections and blitzes.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) at the same conference expressed concern saying some employers seemed to place profits before human life.
Maphaha said the original OHS Accord was signed in 2002 in Gauteng. He said the decision was motivated by the need by the Chief Inspector to sign a Sector Accord(s) linked to what is called the High Risk sectors that has been identified.
According to Maphaha various initiatives will be launched for all the high risk sectors in the hope that partners in those various sectors will commit all that is required to reduce fatalities and injuries in line with the “Road to Zero” program launched earlier this year at the National Occupational Health and Safety Conference.
“The Sector Accords will be pivotal in achieving the desired compliance levels,” Maphaha said the success of the initiatives relies on the commitment of the signing partners and what they all agree to.
“The landscape will change in time in line with the action plan that will be developed post the Accord signing,” Maphaha said.
Part of a vision - “Zero harm through collaborative action in the construction sector” - the Construction Health and Safety Accord is yet an attempt to acknowledge that the South African construction sector contributes immensely to the alleviation of unemployment and economic growth.
Thus the department believes that all necessary interventions should be taken to ensure that occupational health and safety objectives are attained concurrently with infrastructures development, poverty alleviation through employment creation and positive economic growth.
The collaborative approach with other stakeholders will ensure that all facets of occupational health and safety of employees, users and members of the public are taken into consideration when developing strategies to improve health and safety without compromise, whilst maintaining balance in ensuring construction sector growth.
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Issued by: Department of Labour
23 Aug 2012
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