A jail term would send a strong message to violators of OHS in the construction sector

Department of Employment and Labour Director of Construction, Explosives and Major Hazards Installations (MHI), Phumi Maphaha says he wants to see a jail term as a form of sanction to violators of occupational health and safety (OHS) in the construction sector.

Maphaha said this would send a strong message to contractors who are cutting corners.

He was addressing a Department’s occupational health and safety conference. The three-day conference which started yesterday is being held at the Emperors Palace in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng Province. The theme of the conference is: “Strategic co-operation to promote decent work and achieve ‘Vision Zero’ in occupational injuries and diseases”.

Maphaha was making a presentation on the findings of structural collapse incidents.

He said according to 2016 statistics there was an average of 12 500 construction sites in South Africa, involving some 1,4 million workers. He said the sad part was that the industry was responsible for a substantial number of fatalities.

According to Maphaha moves are afoot to not only inspect construction sites, but to visit managers in their offices, “Most of incidents that occur could have been prevented in the boardroom”. Maphaha warned that if a structure collapses the constructor was usually be the first person to blame, emphasising that, “if a structure collapses there is someone to blame”.

Maphaha warned designers to move away from slender column designs. He said designers were doing this at a risk. Building slender columns would be playing at safety, he said this was contributing to a lot of structural collapses.

He said there was a need to go back to a drawing board and do things the right way. He said it was imperative that at conception stages of construction, there was proper health and safety practitioners to discuss issues.



Issued by:


Makhosonke Buthelezi

Acting Departmental Spokesperson

071 491 7236



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