South African construction sites ? are high-risk construction activities receiving the priority the deserve?

22 Sep 2014

In the South African construction industry health and safety related risks remain unacceptably high. Arguably, this situation is largely due to ineffective hazard identification and risk management. Construction companies seem to be able to manage those hazardous site operations where the assessed risk is low, rather than diverting the necessary resources to those hazardous operations where the potential for serious injury or damage is high. The result of this mismanagement of risk is that South African construction sites remain places where serious injuries and fatalities continue to occur unabated. This paper reports on a study that sought to quantify which areas of safety and health risk management are being neglected by construction companies in the Western Cape Province. The research tool used was an audit checklist that was developed in 2004 based on the Construction Regulations (2003). The audit format aimed to objectively judge the performance of Principal Contractors relative to compliance with the requirements of the Construction Regulations. Construction related injury statistics were analysed to ascertain whether there was any relationship between the types of injuries that were prevalent and the manner in which risk categories were managed. The findings indicate that construction companies do not allocate the necessary resources to those health and safety management areas that have the potential of causing the most serious injuries.