01 July 2024

At a time when safety in the construction industry is under intense scrutiny following recent fatal accidents, GVK-Siya Zama turns its attention inwards as it drives its teams to adhere to stringent health and safety standards across its projects. This is Part 1 of a two-part series.

According to Craig Laskey, the Group’s HSEQ manager, a major disaster is no more than a step away in the construction industry. “Accidents and fatalities can happen in the blink of an eye, making it essential to be relentless about supervision, training, awareness, education and enforcement.”

Laskey suggests that one of the greatest challenges faced by some small, medium and micro enterprises in the construction industry relates to their functional inability to comply with stringent legislative requirements and industry HSE best practice, something that is often exacerbated by the interference of illegal and disruptive forces on site.

Additionally, a lack of financial management and entrepreneurial skills result in ineffective training, inconsistent policy communication, and poor on-site management, whereas stakeholder influences and the loss of talent to international construction companies place additional strain on the industry. At best, this is a concerning picture.

“Moreover, cut-throat competition and a price race results in designers and contractors being chosen solely based on tendered price, a practice that prioritises cost and time over workforce safety and built quality. All too often, inexperienced contractors are appointed for specialist scopes on highly complex projects. This means that HSE involvement is often disregarded in the critical stages 1-3 of a project: Conception, Design & Planning, Pre-construction, and Procurement,” adds Laskey.

To retrospectively overcome these challenges during the actual construction phase, Laskey says the company addresses behaviour-based problems by upskilling through internal skills transfer, collaboration and integration of SME labour into GVK-Siya Zama’s systems to shift from “enforcement and punishment” to “support and education.”

As an IRCA licensee in Cape Town, GVK further funds HSE training for smaller contractors, offering nine accredited courses at reduced fees to help contribute to industry-wide safety standards.

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