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Cutting corners to save “bucks” at the root of fatal structural collapses in SA – Department of Labour IG

by lloyd last modified 2019-03-15 10:07

14-MARCH-2019

Investigations have shown that errors, shortcuts, cutting corners, compromising on quality is at the root of mishaps in the construction sector, said Department of Labour Deputy Inspector-General (IG) for Inspection and Enforcement Services (IES), Mrs Aggy Moiloa.

“When safety protocols are followed to the teeth and all equipment is provided - construction should not be a dangerous job. When shortcuts are avoided and safety principles are upheld - injuries, diseases and loss of life can be successfully avoided,” Moiloa said.

She was addressing a Department of Labour Construction Indaba held today (March 14) at the Coastlands Hotel in Umhlanga, North of Durban. The Indaba brought together the Department’s inspectors, especially those involved in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), with role players in the construction industry to discuss construction regulations and OHS compliance in wake of the recent structural collapses in South Africa.

Some of recent fatal structural collapses in SA include: the Tongaat Mall, Meyersdal Eco Estate house, Grayston Drive Bridge collapse, and the Imperial Logistics structural collapse.

Moiloa said the Department subscribes to “Vision zero harm” as an ethos, that all workplace accidents are avoidable and the construction industry is no exception. She said accidents happened because of negligence.

“As a Department we believe that a partnership is guided by three pillars (advocacy, inspection and enforcement), and this is what we need.

“I believe that it is possible that one day we will have a construction industry that is free of incidents and fatalities. We have gotten used to fatalities that it has become normal. We have to commit to safety accords. As an industry we have to subscribe to the notion of doing things right at a first go, because the second time it will come with cost. We need to foster a culture of health and safety and incentivise those who comply,” the IG said.

According to Moiloa no amount of regulating on paper “will take us anywhere. We need to inculcate a culture of compliance and safety”.

Tibor Szana, Department of Labour Chief Inspector said nearly 70 percent of inspections conducted by the Department were in the construction sector and most of these are in KwaZulu-Natal, “and we still find ourselves in this predicament (structural collapses)”.

Szana cautioned that it will take more than an inspection to get things right, saying there was a need to raise health and safety champions. He said inspections alone are not going to do this job.

“We need to raise right leaders who will communicate the right messages at the right level. Projects such as the London Olympics proved that construction need not be characterised by incidents and fatalities. Construction and fatalities are not synonymous.

“Construction should not be a job to die,” he said there was need to move beyond discussions.

“It is clear that leadership is required from all of us in the construction sector. Gone are the days when we could afford passengers and benchwarmers in this sector. We have moved substantially from where we were to where we are, but the gap is still so big, hence the incidents we are having.

“With the Indaba we need to get past the victim mentality that death is part of the game,” he said.

Issued by:

Department of Labour Spokesperson

Teboho Thejane

082 697 0694


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