South Africa's Construction Industry Moves to Improve Safety Performance

As a proactive measure to improve health and safety performance in South Africa's construction industry, the South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors (Safcec) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) became the first employer and employee organizations in the nation's construction trade to enter into an occupational health and safety agreement.

The agreement, signed April 11, would require Safcec and NUM to make a number of commitments, which include, among other things:

  • Encouraging their members to make occupational health and safety a way of life;
  • Providing their members with the required training opportunities, working together to achieve their joint ideals and objectives for occupational health and safety; and
  • Promoting the integration of occupational health and safety into business processes and strategies.

During the signing ceremony, Safcec President Bryan Wescott said the agreement would underscore "the joint commitment of management and labor to improve health and safety in the industry." NUM President Senzeni Zokwana said the signing of the agreement was an important milestone in reducing injuries and fatalities in the construction industry.

Safcec represent about 25 percent of companies within the civil engineering and contracting industry and its members generate about 75 percent of the industry's turnover.

Although NUM is better known as a mineworkers' union, it also represents construction workers. NUM said that it represents more than 50,000 construction workers, which makes it the largest union of its kind in the South African construction sector.

The construction industry has injury and fatality rates second only to the mining industry in South Africa. The yearly fatality and injury statistics translate into about one construction worker killed and about four permanently disabled every day in South Africa, according to the South African Department of Labor.

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