The elimination of inefficiencies and accident hazards caused by unfavourable working conditions and negligence about the workplace is essential in getting the job done properly and safely. The standards of Health and Safety on construction sites has become increasingly important over the past decade. The Laws are set out in accordance with the Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 OHS Act), to which people in the construction industry must abide by when working on construction sites. However, due to many reasons, people do not always follow the regulations stipulated in the act. This can lead to serious problems and consequences for all concerned. The problems that are to be discussed during this report will be conveyed from a site managers point of view. Being the Site manager for a construction company previously, I have witnessed first hand numerous problems that are experienced with regard to health and safety within the company itself as well as associated workers and sub contractors. The focus of these problems is around those who do not abide/ adhere to the rules and regulations and those who fail to enforce the rules and regulations regarding health and safety in construction.
1.2. Information defining problem to be researched
1.2.1. Problems concerning the main contractor
The main contractor has a site management team who are expected to oversee the development of the project. This is not only with regards to the actual physical development of the project but the development and maintenance of a high safety standard on site. During the period of January 2011 – December 2011 I was involved in a R13 Million renovation project of the Mthatha Central police Station. My company had appointed me as Site Quantity Surveyor. However just two months later , the foreman resigned and I was forced to take on the role of foreman as well as site QS. I had established that the reason why my company did not want to hire another foreman, was to cut costs and save on (P&G ‘s). The company however was penalised in a OHS audit held on site on the 31 August 2011 ( see annexure 1).
The main contractor is required to appoint a site based Safety Officer. The main contractor is also required to appoint a Safety, Health and Environment Representative (SHE Rep) who will assist the Safety Officer with the duties. Daily, the Safety Officer of the main contractor is required to go onto site and monitor the manner in which the workers perform their tasks i.e. if it is in accordance with the correct health and safety regulations. During the period of January 2011 – December 2011 while I was on site, the company had not hired/Appointed a qualified safety officer, instead they appointed a junior quantity surveyor to take on the role. Once again the company illegally appointed some one who was not qualified and trained to take on the role. The company was penalised for this illegal appointment in safety audits held on the ;09 June 2011, 08 July 2011 and the 31 August 2011, by Mink line Consulting (see annexure 1).
The company had also been penalised for an expired ‘Letter of Good Standing’ in the audit held on the 03 May 2011.
Even with the help and assistance of the ‘SHE Rep’ there was a visual problem with the ratio of workers to safety representation on site. It was impossible for her to monitor all workers on site constantly. It was also difficult for her to have full control over the sub-contractors’ workforce. Even though there are Safety Committees established, in terms of Section 19 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, these do not guarantee efficient health and safety control at all times.
In some instances the main contractor allocates the same Safety officer to 2 sites. If the Safety Officer is unavailable on one site, the SHE Rep is left to man the fort. In a case of an emergency a SHE rep does not always have the experience to handle a situation.
Also, as the project develops the pressure to complete the project on time to avoid penalties increases. This allows for the main contractor to overlook certain conditions in order to suit themselves and complete the project timeously. Therefore the safety standard is not always maintained.