housePatrick Nwabueze Okonkwo, Post Doctoral Research Fellow at Stellenbosch University, notes that the construction industry in SA accounts for around 8% of total formal employment and around 17% of total informal employment, but it is also the third most dangerous sector for workers after the transportation and fishing industries.  

In a recent study, the author tried to find out why health and safety performance was not up to standard in the industry and looked at how contractor organisations managed health and safety.  Because there’s no uniformity around health and safety management programmes and practices within the industry, he compared the effectiveness of different management arrangements.  What emerged was that health and safety management within the construction industry has not developed at the same pace as in other industries.  Additionally, it hasn’t kept up with technological advances like robotics, 3D printing and data analytics.  Another problem is that legislation governing health and safety management in the industry focuses on individual projects and doesn’t place any obligation on contractors to implement health and safety management systems, nor to maintain these competencies within their organisations in the long-term.  Among the other issues identified was the widespread practice of subcontracting.  The author identifies potential solutions and effective interventions.  These include that stakeholders like the department of labour, employer associations, labour unions, tertiary institutions and industry bodies need to come together to address the lack of suitably qualified and registered health and safety professionals.

Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page