MBAWC INFORMATION BULLETIN | EDITION 32 | DAY 169

Dear Members

We hope that this bulletin finds you all well and that your businesses are slowly starting to get back to normal - or as the latest saying goes - back to the "new normal".

With rumours of the lockdown moving to Level 1 and the recent approval by Cabinet of an extension of the Disaster Management Act from 15 September to 15 October 2020, one must wonder when the "old" normal will return.  As per Dr Mkhize, the Health Minister, who was quoted in a press release today:
"We never actually knew what to expect, and the reality is that we can now safely say we are over the surge," he said. "There were days we used [to] have 11 000 people who were positive and now today we see numbers around 2 000," said Mkhize. 
"The sooner we can get to Level 1 the better. The sooner we have a normal economy the better. It is better for the country," he said. "We are hoping South Africans will understand that to get there, we have to make sure we are just as cautious in level two so that there is no resurgence," added Mkhize. 
As the MBAWC, we are heartened that our membership renewal rate for 2020/2021 is now at 60% and we can only attribute this to the value that our Association has added to our membership base over the past few months.  We thank our membership sincerely for the continued support and we remain at your service.  Please note:  If any members are experiencing problems with making payment, please contact Des Paterson (des@mbawc.org.za) and we can arrange a payment plan for you.  
If you have made payment, but not yet received your Membership Certificate for 2020/2021, please email Aziza (aziza@mbawc.org.za) and she will forward your certificate to you immediately.

It was recently announced that the UIF/TERS benefit payment has been extended to 15 September to assist those employees within industries who are still not able to operate.  Again, we are extremely happy to report that many members we were trying to assist with unlocking their payments have now been paid, which was no doubt a welcome relief to many employers and employees alike.  Please click on the links below to access documents which were sent out by UIF over the past few days which may assist in providing some useful information:
 

A reminder that our "first ever" virtual AGM takes place on 22nd September via Zoom.  If you have not yet done so, please ensure that you register to attend as only registered members will be able to participate.  You can click HERE to access the registration portal.  

Nominations for Executive Committee members are due by no later than the 15th September.  If you wish to submit a nomination, the form can be found at the following link - Nomination Forms.   

We continue to remember you all and remain at your service in the event that you require support.

Kind regards,

Allen Bodill
Executive Director
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HEALTH & SAFETY

Construction Risk Assessment
By Deon Bester (OHS Manager)
 
The OHS Act clearly states that an employer must provide a safe and healthy work environment by identifying any hazards and where possible eliminate or mitigate the hazard. Where this is not possible, safe work systems must be developed and finally, PPE must be provided where it is not possible to make the work process safe. The General Safety Regulations sub-section 2 makes a similar statement and clearly states the employer must "make an assessment of the hazards and risks" and apply a similar process of elimination and engineering and then provide PPE as a last resort.

The Construction Regulations, (CR) in sub-section 9 deals with the requirements of the construction work risk assessment, which needs to be done by the contractor. The client is also tasked with doing a baseline risk assessment for an intended construction work project. The health and safety specification for the project must be based on this risk assessment. Furthermore, the designer is also required to advise the client, in writing, of any known dangers or hazards relating to the construction work to be performed.

I think it is fair to say that every decision made in the interest of health and safety is based on risk and thus risk assessments are a fundamental part of the process of providing a healthy and safe work environment.
The first requirement is to have the risk assessment performed by a competent person. Let us pause here for a moment and unpack the word competent.

The CR defines competency as having knowledge, training, and experience. The Regulation further states that where a qualification specific to the work exists, that qualification is required.

To my knowledge, there cannot be many people who can do a risk assessment for every possible task on a construction site or, for that matter, do a method statement or safe work procedure for the numerous tasks on a construction site. Thus, I think it is rare that a single person can meet all the criteria of being competent to do a risk assessment. This might seem a bit harsh, but the reality is completing a two-day risk assessor's course does not qualify one to do a comprehensive construction risk assessment.

So, I hear you ask, what is the solution?

Having had the privilege of attending numerous international health and safety conferences, where risk management specialists have presented on this very subject, it is very clear that risk assessments need to be done by cross-functional teams with a multi-disciplinary approach. (Elriza Esterhuizen, Identifying and Analysing Safety Risk, Juta 2016)

A risk assessment should be done by teams of people who are experts in the type of work process that is being analysed. For instance, the installation of a lift. This requires specialised skills and equipment and who better than the persons involved in the design and installation to provide input into the risk assessment. This team would be best placed to write the method statement for the works to be completed so that the risks can be identified and analysed for every step in the process. The subsequent safe work procedures for the task would, or should, be sufficient to execute the work safely, knowing that the experts have provided the correct information based on their "knowledge and experience". The "competent" risk assessor would play the role of leading the process, recording the results, and collating these results in the form of a written risk assessment.

There are numerous steps that need to be followed once the risk assessment has been completed, such as:
  • A monitoring and review plan must be in place.
  • The PC must inform all contractors of the anticipated hazards as identified in the risk assessment.
  • All employees must be informed and trained on the following:
    • Hazards identified;
    • The control measures that have been put in place (SOP's).
    • Any visitors to the site must be informed of all the hazards prevalent on the site.
As stated before, all decisions made, and systems used to provide for a healthy and safe working environment are based on risk. Thus, the safety plan for any construction site must be based on the risk assessment for the site and must address how the risks created by the hazards identified are going to be managed.

In conclusion, spend the time and the effort to do proper task specific risk assessments to ensure that employees can work safely and ensure that everyone understands the processes and procedures that need to be followed to work safely on site. 

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UPDATE AS AT 10 SEPTEMBER 2020