EC MBA hosts Health & Safety Conference to address ‘burning’ questions in building industries

BY MARC JACOBSON - MARCH 24, 2017
EC MBA hosts Health & Safety Conference to address ‘burning’ questions in building industries

The Master Builders Association (MBA) of Eastern Cape hosted a Health & Safety Conference at the Singa Lodge in Summerstrand last week, to answer some of the 'burning' questions in the industry.

Through this, MBA covered topics that needed addressing in these regards, with the quintessential specialists examining such topics, which included: Medical certificates of fitness; the implementation of Health & Safety files on site and the habitual characteristics of Health & Safety in the industry.

These topics were eagerly anticipated and the Conference was devout to meeting the people of the industry half way with regards to understanding and applying the regulations of health hazards in the building trade as a whole.

“The health risks relative to construction activities are not well understood and therefore not applied to the benefit of the workers, or for those who get exposed,” said Dr. Claire Deacon of Occumed – Occupational Health & Safety Consultants, regarding the underlying issue.

It was reiterated that health surveillance, or regulations alike, on work sites are largely inadequate, due to the fact that a ‘one size fits all’ approach is taken, meaning overall health issues do not always get applied.

“Concerning employers don’t really apply the overall health issues that workers are exposed to at work during their employment, and as a result, critical exposure may be missed,” Dr. Deacon said.

The main challenge of these implementations being that symptoms of such concerning exposures in the building environment are missed and not taken note of, and thus hindering the opportunity to foreground the protection of those affected.

“Medical surveillance needs to be enforced over all projects, irrespective of size, but the challenge is the ‘loss’ of data as many are sent through surveillance for every project, which in some instances could be deemed as invasive in terms of the Employment Equity Act,” said Dr. Deacon regarding health check measurements.

With regards to permanent employment, Dr. Deacon emphasized that contractors should be placed on a regular health check program.

“Contractors should be on a regular program, at least annually, but would be determined by a risk exposure profile.  Community or temporary workers would be done on pre-employment, periodic and at exit,” she said.

For some solutions regarding the aforementioned issues, Dr. Deacon stated: “A centralized data base for medicals is needed, and the adaption of the appropriate actions need to exercised.” 

“I have an instrument that was tested in my Masters, and an adapted version is currently used by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).  The use of a standard such as that would be advisable,” she added.

Image: The three specialists who covered the issues at the Conference, (from left) Professor John Smallwood (NMMU), Donevin Lesch (Equipt. Consulting) and Dr. Claire Deacon (Occumed).

Mr. Donevin Lesch (Speaker from Equipt Consulting).Greg Steele (Executive Director MBA).news 13736 16933 dsc 0800 JPGnews 13736 16932 dsc 0795 JPG