Health and Safety

Fanie de Swart

 

On 11 May 2010 the new ''Draft Amendment to the Construction Regulations, 2003'' was published through the Government Gazette for public comment (Notice 391 of 2010). If the new amendments are accepted, it could have a huge impact not only on the construction industry in South Africa but to most business and property owners as well.

 

Most people are under the impression that the construction regulations are only applicable to the construction industry itself, thus reasoning that the above mentioned changes will not have an effect on them. Be careful not to make a mistake in this regard. In order to clarify the issue, we need to look at the meaning of the term ''construction work''? According to the definition, if any of the following activities takes place on your premise or are performed by any of your employees, it is deemed to be construction work:

  • the construction, erection, maintenance, alteration, renovation, repair, demolition, or dismantling of or addition to a building or any similar structure; or
  • the construction, erection, maintenance, demolition, or dismantling of any bridge, dam, canal, road, railway, runway, sewer or water reticulation; or the moving of earth, clearing of land, the making of an excavation, piling, system or any similar type of work."

 

It is clear from the definition that a lot of everyday activities like maintenance, alteration, renovation forms part of ''construction work''. The Construction regulations will not only be applicable to the construction industry but most business as well as property owners. Regulation 2 of the amended regulations stipulates that these regulations will be applicable to ''... all persons in construction work''.

 

With this in mind, let's have a look at some of the important changes that could take place. The client, in other words ''any person for whom construction work is performed'', shall according to the new amendments, be responsible for a large number of added obligations.

 

These new responsibilities include duties like, applying for a ''permit'' to do construction work, the carrying out of a base line risk assessment, prepare a suitable, sufficiently documented and site specific health and safety specifications for the intended construction based on the previously mentioned baseline risk assessment, ensure that the designer takes the health and safety requirements into consideration, ensure that the services of a approved inspection authority is used at the early design stage or later stage, include the health and safety specifications in the tender documents, ensure that the principal contractor made adequate provision for the cost of health and safety in tenders, ensure that all contractors on site are registered with the Compensation Commissioner, ensure that UIF registration was completed, ensure that the reporting of section 24 fatalities and disabling injuries are done to the Provisional Director, ensure that specific requirements are set for agents, ensure that specific requirements are set for the construction supervision, just to mention a few.

 

The ''Draft Amendments'' also includes changes to a number of definitions as well as several of the construction regulations.

 

One of the biggest changes proposed by these regulations includes the application to perform construction work. The client will need to apply for a ''permit" in order to get permission for the provincial director before certain kinds or types of construction work may be performed. This includes construction work where it:

  • exceed 30 days or will involve more than 300 person days of construction work
  • includes excavation work
  • includes working at a height where there is a risk of falling
  • includes the demolition of a structure
  • includes the use of explosives to perform construction

 

The client should apply at least fourteen days before the commencement of the above mentioned construction work. The application to the provincial director must be done on the ''Annexure 1 form'' attached to the amended regulations. Please note that certain criteria should be met before a permit will be granted to a client. The required conditions are mentioned in regulation 4 of the amended regulations.

 

The permit contains a site specific number for each construction site. The unique number, allocated by the provincial director, should be displayed at the main entrance to the site for which the number was issued. The client is compelled to ensure that the principal contractor keeps a copy of the permit in the occupational health and safety file.

 

I am sure that the proposed changes raise a number of questions and concerns. Will the provincial director be able to handle added administrative burden? Will the Chief Inspector have enough inspectors to actually monitor and enforce the new amendments?

Well as the saying goes, only time will tell.

 

For more information contact Fanie de Swardt or Tinus Boshoff  

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