Urgent call issued for renewed commitment to worker safety 

George tragedy: A painful reminder of risks faced by construction workers everywhere 

Monday 20 May 2024 “The construction tragedy in George that has claimed the lives of 34 men and women is a heartbreaking reminder of the risks and sacrifices that construction workers face daily and a call to action for the industry to review the safety and overall health of its workers. 

Silhouette of construction worker with building rubble surrounding him with safety and caution signs above him.

“Our hearts go out not only to the families and loved ones of the individuals who have lost their lives but also to those who have been injured and subjected to immeasurable trauma,” says Ruth Maseko, Chief Executive and Principal Officer of the Building and Construction Industry Medical Aid Fund (BCIMA). 

“The men and women who have lost their lives in George were more than just colleagues; they were part of the construction family. Their absence leaves a void that has reverberated throughout every job site in the country and is a loss felt by everyone who has ever donned a hard hat, wielded a tool or been a part of making structures rise from the bare ground. 

“Without the construction family, there would be no hospitals, no cities and many of the comforts the general public takes for granted daily. As we deal with the aftermath of this tragedy, BCIMA is reaffirming its deep commitment to the health and wellbeing of the building and construction industry’s men and women,” she says. 

“The priority to reflect appreciation for the individuals in the building and construction workforce takes on a new urgency in the face of this tragedy. As an organisation dedicated to the healthcare needs of the building and construction community for over half a century, we are committed to the health, safety and wellbeing of the men and women who are the very foundation of this industry.” 

Maseko further called for unity, resilience and commitment on the industry’s part to ensure its people’s ongoing health and safety. “We are so much more than the structures we build. We are also builders of communities who look out for one another and, where needed, support each other and come together to rebuild when necessary. 

“BCIMA stands with the construction community during this difficult time. It is in this spirit that we are calling on the industry to honour the legacy of the fallen by recommitting to the safety and wellbeing of every worker. Let the events in George be a turning point for all of us,” concluded Maseko. 

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