Advice and Opinion

Builders Association welcomes published labour guidelines

Legal Documents

The Master Builders Association of the Western Cape (MBAWC) has welcomed the recent publication of a guideline to the 2014 Construction Regulations by the Department of Labour. MBAWC Occupational Health and Safety Manager, Deon Bester, says that while this has provided clarity on certain definitions and sub-regulations, a number of items have not been addressed, resulting in them being open to personal interpretation which can create conflict on construction sites.

Some of the items addressed by the guideline which Bester feels are beneficial to the industry include the clarification of the definition of’ ‘agent and elaboration on the responsibilities of this position – namely supervising the overall construction work on behalf of the client and ensuring the management of health and safety on a construction project.

Bester also appreciates the Department’s addendum to the phrase ‘competent person’ to include more detailed criteria for determining the appropriateness of an individual in relation to the work being done. The guideline states that an all-inclusive assessment should be made on their knowledge, training and experience and, where appropriate, qualifications. In addition, a ‘competent person’ should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) Act and its various applicable regulations.

In terms of an employee’s medical certificate of fitness, Bester is pleased to note that the Department has made clear that a risk-based approach must be taken when considering the method and frequency of medicals. This is because, up until now, the practice has been an annual medical, irrespective of the risk profile.

The guideline further details the duties of the client, with the MBAWC OHS Manager highlighting that it is now more apparent that the client is responsible for evaluating any contractor which he or she may specify to be appointed by the principal contractor.

He does, however, take issue with the sub-section that states: “A client may appoint a Construction Health and Safety Agent or Construction Health and Safety Manager based on the scope and risk profile of construction work to represent him/her on matters of health and safety.” Bester says: “While this is self-explanatory, there is no clear guideline regarding whether to appoint an Agent or a Manager based on the level of risk involved. This is particularly concerning given that the registration process and scope of duties for an Agent are quite different from those of a Manager. “

Bester is satisfied though that the guideline concerning temporary works now plainly shows that three different people can be appointed to design, inspect and approve temporary works on site before use. He is also encouraged to see that the guideline emphasises that the design required for scaffolding must be done in accordance with the requirements of SANS 10085, which has its own set of rules regarding design.

“I believe that the guideline will go a long way towards improving health and safety on site,” concludes Bester.