Construction transport safety vital to reduce R352m spend

Aims to reduce the almost R352 million spent on MVAs in the construction industry

South Africa has one of the worst overall motor vehicle accident (MVA) rates in the world, according to the latest World Health Organization’s road safety report published in 2018. The report revealed that there are around 1 million accidents per year and 31.9% fatalities per 100 000 people.

Transportation of People on Back of a Bakkie

Deon Bester, Occupational Health and Safety Manager at Master Builders Association Western Cape (MBAWC) says that according to Federated Employers Mutual Assurance Company (RF) (Pty) Ltd (FEM) – the workmen’s compensation insurer for the building industry – 929 of these accidents per year involved people working within the construction industry. “While this may seem low, the cost per accident is detrimental.”

“FEM’s latest statistics that show the total number of vehicle crashes in the construction industry amounted to 4 602 from January 2015 to December 2019, which cost a whopping R 351 945 735.00 with 66 883 workdays lost,” he adds.

In order to address health and safety issues, FEM started a campaign several years ago called ‘Safetember’ which was targeted at reducing the high number of accidents with the focus of the first campaign being on motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) in the construction industry. “The campaign was aimed at making policyholders more aware of the current situation and sought to find ways to address the problem. This campaign now encapsulates all the health and safety issues related to construction, including the MVAs which account for around 10% of all injuries related to construction work,” said Bester. 

He points out that an industry that is currently experiencing one of its worst downturns, with limited work available, can ill afford to spend almost R352 million on accidents that are avoidable according to the statistics provided by FEM. “The cost of implementing measures to mitigate these accidents are negligible compared to the cost of these accidents – even before taking into account the loss of life. In many instances, the person who loses his or her life is the main breadwinner in a home.”

These numbers are quite high considering the type of legislation South Africa has in place, both governing the use of public roads and the Construction Regulations of 2014, says Bester. “The allowable method of the transportation of workers in the back of a goods vehicle (‘bakkie’) is very clearly described in the legislation and, as such, enforcement of this legislation remains one of the fundamental issues.”

This legislation essentially means that you are not allowed to carry people in a goods vehicle such as a bakkie or truck unless there is a barrier high and strong enough to prevent them from falling out during an accident. If seated, the barrier must be at least 350mm and if standing it must be at least 900mm high. Any tools or goods must be carried in such a way that they cannot fly around and injure the passengers during an accident.

“My own experience while travelling on our major highways is that it is rare to see one of these vehicles that fail to meet the safety guidelines being pulled off the road by law enforcement officials,” adds Bester. “It is my contention that there needs to be a specialised licensing procedure for anyone who transports employees in the load bay of a bakkie. This would go far to make the drivers aware of the dangers they pose to the persons seated on these vehicles and should help reduce the high number of accidents currently experienced in the industry.”

Contractors have no,  or very little, control over what happens on the highways and Bester believes that they are relying on the traffic law enforcement officers to police the vehicles being used to transport workers. He goes on further to say that it is important to understand that transporting employees on open vehicles is and will always be part of the industry in South Africa.

Current information shows that the main causes of accidents in the construction industry are due to speeding, drivers not taking into consideration the load on the vehicle, overloading of vehicles, unroadworthy vehicles and incompetent drivers.

Bester concludes by saying that: “We need to accept that the status quo will not change in the foreseeable future, employees will continue to be transported on open vehicles, it is how we manage it into the future that will determine our success in reducing motor vehicle accidents.”



Latest


26 Feb 2021
Discover the self-care you deserve

In a world filled with day-to-day stresses and responsibilities, it’s often easy to lose sight of your own value. But…

Discover the self-care you deserve

In a world filled with day-to-day stresses and responsibilities, it’s often easy to lose sight of your own value. But the way we see ourselves is equally as important as the way we see others, and sometimes, we need to take a time out to be pampered and wash away…

25 Feb 2021
34th Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards Regional Winner: UCT Landscape Architecture

Landscape architecture is a way of continuously negotiating between a wide range of practices, involving people, materials and timelines, according…

34th Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards Regional Winner: UCT Landscape Architecture

Landscape architecture is a way of continuously negotiating between a wide range of practices, involving people, materials and timelines, according to Hayden Malan, declared the winner of the Most Innovative Final-Year Landscape Architecture Award on Friday 5 February. The event was part of the 34th Corobrik Architectural Student of the…

25 Feb 2021
Designed for pet stains and spills at home

From scratch resistant to easy-to-clean! Atroguard® is the flooring that pet owners look for. We love our animal friends; but…

Designed for pet stains and spills at home

From scratch resistant to easy-to-clean! Atroguard® is the flooring that pet owners look for. We love our animal friends; but accidents happen. AtroGuard® flooring makes it easy to wipe away the little accidents, and there’s no need to sacrifice style for the inconvenience of an easy-care surface. Warrant guarantee AtroGuard® will not…

24 Feb 2021
Going touchless – public bathrooms

Hygiene is the most important factor to consider in public bathrooms and the Geberit team believe that a touchless environment…

Going touchless – public bathrooms

Hygiene is the most important factor to consider in public bathrooms and the Geberit team believe that a touchless environment is key. The fewer shoppers or maintenance staff need to handle items, the better from a sanitary and hygiene perspective. Geberit sees touchless use in the public sector growing at…


Top stories


23 Jan 2020
Refurbishment at North West University

As the three established divisions of Norcros SA, TAL, Johnson Tiles and Tile Africa recently played important roles in an…

Refurbishment at North West University

As the three established divisions of Norcros SA, TAL, Johnson Tiles and Tile Africa recently played important roles in an extensive tiling project at North-West University’s Potchefstroom campus in North West Province. The project entailed refurbishing the five-block Sports Village, a guest house facility providing accommodation for the public, athletes…

06 Mar 2020
7 Awe-inspiring marble use cases

Marble, an exceptionally versatile material used for centuries to create awe-inspiring art, majestic staircases, classic kitchens and resplendent flooring. With…

7 Awe-inspiring marble use cases

Marble, an exceptionally versatile material used for centuries to create awe-inspiring art, majestic staircases, classic kitchens and resplendent flooring. With today’s contemporary design trends, the wide selection of marble can be used in more ways than ever before.

05 Mar 2020
First Green Key Boutique Hotel in South Africa

21 Nettleton attains their Green Key Award from WESSA, becoming South Africa’s first boutique hotel to achieve this accolade for…

First Green Key Boutique Hotel in South Africa

21 Nettleton attains their Green Key Award from WESSA, becoming South Africa’s first boutique hotel to achieve this accolade for its efforts in sustainability. An exciting partnership between WESSA and 21 Nettleton has resulted in the private boutique hotel in Clifton, Cape Town being awarded the prestigious Green Key award.…

27 Feb 2020
The Nxuba wind farm Renewable Energy

In its ongoing efforts to showcase the potential that renewables can play in boosting the security of energy supplies in…

The Nxuba wind farm Renewable Energy

In its ongoing efforts to showcase the potential that renewables can play in boosting the security of energy supplies in South Africa, Enel Green Power (EGP) highlights its commitment to the country as it nears the completion of its Nxuba wind farm in the Eastern Cape. The company recently started…


Visit the official COVID-19 government website to stay informed: sacoronavirus.co.za