1.3.1. Solutions from the main contractor
Not much can be done to increase the number of Safety Officers per site, as for some cases it might be too costly or inconvenient. The main contractor can however appeal to the sub-contractors’ Safety Officer to assist them in the monitoring and controlling of their workers as much as logically possible to help facilitate their work on site.
For the main contractor, the ratio of Safety Officers per site should be kept to 1:1. This is in the best interest for all involved. Stress relating to managing one site is enough; let alone adding another site to it.
SHE Reps must be kept at a strict ratio to workers as 1:20, or more, as stipulated in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 17. Safety Committees should be, where possible, established if there are two or more SHE reps allocated on site as stipulated in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 19. These regulations are there to maintain the high standard safety on site and should be adhered to at all times.
Double standards should be done away with. If there is a standard created on site with regards to health and safety it should be maintained at all times and should not be flexible to accommodate the needs of the main contractor or sub-contractors for convenience.
1.3.2. Solutions from the sub-contractor
For a sub-contractor to appoint a safety officer per site is very costly. With the main contractors’ Safety Officer on site and the sub-contractor’s Safety Officer making regular visits may not always be enough. Training should be done with workers appointed on site so that they can facilitate the maintenance of standards of safety on site with regards to themselves and their co-workers. For example when the safety file needs to be updated, workers should be able to fill in the relevant information regarding tools, equipment and workers on site. They could also do the weekly tool box talks themselves on matters which they feel are relevant.
Management also has to take Health and Safety more seriously. If they are too ‘cheap’ to provide the required PPE, PPC and safety facilities; they must be aware of the consequences of their actions as Health and Safety can be very expensive.
Management should understand that the workers are doing all the work on site. If they are injured while on duty it is the responsibility, in majority of the cases, for the employer to compensate workers in accordance to the Compensation of Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993. This is very costly if it is proven that the worker has contracted a disease, injured or killed during employment.
Workshops and team building exercises can be held to increase awareness and morale for workers.
1.3.3. Solutions from the workers
Workers need to become more involved with safety on site. The main purpose of safety is to protect workers from being harmed or fatally injured whilst working on site. They need to realise that safety is for their best interest and will safe guard them, provided that they are practicing working safely and responsibly. Another challenge that workers need to overcome is the fact that if they don’t know their rights or do not understand what is being asked of them, they need to address this issue. The initiative needs to come from them to understand why these rules are being put into practice and how it affects their work. The simple laid back attitude does not benefit them in anyway and they need to be more pro-active.
Workers also tend to have the attitude of ‘that will never happen to me’. On site, there are many hazards and accidents waiting to happen. Workers can be working as safe as possible but they cannot control the factors around them such as; other workers’ attitudes, poor maintenance or other site hindrances. Workers therefore need to be able to do a risk assessment of his working surroundings before each task to identify what hazards he may be faced with.
2. Research Team
This report was research by me as this was an individual assignment. I have the following credentials up to the due date for this report.
2.1. Curriculum Vitae of Rinalen Naidu
Date of Birth: 01/04/1987
Identity Number: 8704015151086
Residential Address: 135 Genazzano Road,
Contact Details: (W) 031- 465 1716
(C) 073 459 2075
Nationality: South African
Marital Status: Single
High School Attended: Seatides Combined
Qualification: Merit Exemption Pass In 2004
Tertiary Institute Attended: Durban University of Technology
Qualification: National Diploma: Building and Quantity Surveying
Company Name: Azcon Projects CC
Duration: June 2008 – Present
Description of Job: Measuring of Drawings, Compiling Tenders, Tender Valuations, Sub Contractor measures, monthly payments, assistant to senior QS, assistant to estimator, certificates and final accounts.
Reference: Ismail Seedat (Senior Qs)
(W) 031 – 4651716
(C) 082 7786 202
3. Requirements of the Report:
3.1. Why the is problem being investigated
A safety officer for a sub contractor is basically the middle man in safety. The job is the link between the safety concerned with the main contractor and the safety concerned with the sub-contractors’ workers. The basic tasks in general is to convey messages of safety from the main contractor to sub-contractors’ workforce. Whilst at various different sites I came across the following problems and realized that attention should be brought to these problematic areas in the work place.
Where we encountered our first problem was with safety file audits. On sites where (WBHO) is the main contractor a safety audit is done periodically. In order to be regarded as competent, the file is assessed and a rating of 75% or higher regards the company as competent and may remain on site. A memo is sent out reflecting the marks scored and action should be taken accordingly to improve or maintain the score obtained. On a site where Armstrong construction is the main contractor, a similar procedure is followed. However, in order to be deemed competent, the safety audit should yield a rating of 90% or above. The problem with this is that the standard of Health and Safety is not maintained throughout. Even though they are two different construction companies, the competency standard should be standard throughout the construction industry in South Africa. The audits should be standardized so that everyone can be audited fairly according to a baseline audit. For example; on all our sites we do not have a qualified First Aider and on a WBHO site we may sign a declaration stating that for the duration of the project we will make use of the main contractors’ First Aider as well as their first aid kits. On a Armstrong Construction site a declaration form is also signed stating that we do not have a qualified First Aider. However, the difference comes with the first aid kit. A safety kit must be provided by us, the sub-contractor, for our workers on site and is to be kept with the site supervisor at all times. Failure to provide this will decrease out safety audit rating by 5%. If there is no one qualified, on behalf of the sub-contractors’ workforce, and it is understood how is it that a first aid kit is required. The other issue I feel with this situation is that who will be liable if medication (which is contained in some first aid kits) or health care is given by someone who is not qualified to handle a situation when an injury has occurred.
At Mthatha Central Police station an employee of the sub-contractor (D & H Flooring) was injured when he had his thumb cut open with a Stanley Blade. Upon investigations it was found that the worker was not working under safe conditions. This particular worker was also involved in a near miss incident a few weeks prior to the Stanley Blade incident. The worker was addressed by the main contractors; Safety Officer when he was involved in the near miss incident and was informed that his carelessness was the cause of the near miss incident and that he should be more cautious whilst working on site. When the worker got cut with the Stanley Blade he did not report the incident immediately, having not being fully aware of his rights regarding injury on duty (IOD). He felt as though he will lose his job if he reports the incident having just been involved with a near miss incident previously. However, he was spoken to and explained to that even though it was his negligence that caused the incident and near miss it was not grounds for dismissal. It was then pointed out to him that in such a short space of time he was involved in two separate incidents and that he was becoming a hazard to himself and soon to be a hazard to others around him. He was also informed that a future incident involving him will cause him to be removed temporarily off site and be issues a formal warning. This clearly indicated that the worker was not aware of his rights as worker if he felt he would lose his job for being involved in an incident on site. It also shows that the worker did not take the first incident seriously if he was involved so quickly in another one.
At St Lucy’s HospitalÂ³ an incident occurred with one of our sub-contractors’ labourer. A scaffold was deemed unsafe by the inspector and was out of bounce until further notice. However, the labourer needed something at the top of the scaffold and proceeded to climb the outer of the scaffold without a helmet. He was caught doing so by the inspector. Legally, he should have been suspended or dismissed but the job was being pushed to be completed by the stipulated date and time did not permit us to follow the timeous process. So, in turn, we were advised by personnel of the main contractor to issue a letter of formal warning to our sub-contractor stating the offence. We were informed again that as the worker is under the employment of our sub-contractor and that we did not have the authority to terminate his services. The action we then took was to issue the letter and have the sub-contractor and his labourer sign it. The problem as I see it in this particular incident is that we (the sub-contractor) were unaware of the actions to take regarding the situation and to avoid complications agreed upon the possible solution given to us. Had we had enough time and had we been more cautious the proper action could have been taken, instead of a quick fix.
Another problem found is that of the updating of safety files. The main contractor at Mthatha Central Police station had an out sourced company handling their Health and Safety (Mink Line Consulting). Before commencing on site a ‘contractors’ package’ was sent out to all subcontractors. This was a set of safety requirements that needed to be fulfilled before commencement on site and a copy of the information had to be sent to the health and safety company for approval, and the original would form part of the health and safety file for the project. It stipulated that every employee that was to be brought onto site had to be inducted before being called to work on the project, failure to do so would not grant workers permission to work on the site. At start up there were only 15 of our workers on site. It was also a requirement of the main contractor that safety talks should be held once a week or once in two weeks and that the file had to be updated monthly. This was verified by monthly inspections an audit done by the external safety company hired by the main contractor and failure to comply was greatly expressed. The problem came towards the end of the project about two to three months before hand over when the workload and pressure of completing the project in time demanded an increase in workforce. We needed to call in more teams to speed up the completion process which meant that we had almost 70% of our workers on site. A double standard was then set as none of the workers were inducted on this site before coming on to site. Updating of files and safety talks were not compulsory anymore and no audits on our files had taken place in this latter stage of the development of the project.
All the above situations show that there was clearly a problem with the enforcing, implementation, adhering to and maintenance of the safety rules and regulations on a construction site.