The Constitution, which is the supreme law of South Africa, contains a number of references to every person’s right to a safe and healthy environment.
We have the Occupational Health and Safety Act and numerous Regulations that are “recipe books” for compliance. The Construction Regulations set out the requirements for compliance step by step yet many contractors remain oblivious to these requirements.
Contractors have a moral and legal obligation to ensure that their employees remain free from harm at work and that they are able to return home safely to their families. Employees on the other hand also have a major role to play with regards to health and safety. Employees are required to take care of their own health and safety as well as their fellow employee’s health and safety. Simply put, “I am my brothers’ keeper”. Employees need to be empowered to not work unsafely and employers need to prioritise providing a healthy and safe working environment.
Finding the balance between productivity, cost, quality and health and safety remains one of the biggest challenges we face in construction. This can only be achieved when all of the players in the construction industry embrace the fact that health and safety must be classified equally important as “cost, quality & time”.
Accidents in construction have cost the industry more than 3 billion Rand over the past 10 years, and there is convincing evidence that providing a healthy and safe work environment would cost substantially less. It would also appear as if the industry is quite happy to spend this huge sum of money on something that is preventable but yet continue to complain about the low profit margins available.
The MBA Western Cape is here to assist members with compliance and training all it takes is a phone call.
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