Kevin Bates Albert Carpets (KBAC) Flooring was awarded its second Master Builders Association (MBA) North Safety Trophy in July for installing the flooring of petrochemicals group Sasol’s new head offices in Sandton, Johannesburg.
KBAC Flooring supplied and installed Interface carpet tile. The installation took about nine months to complete.
“The KBAC Flooring management and project teams do their utmost to provide and maintain a safe working environment for all. We have been an active member of MBA North since 1969 and ensure that we are in touch with the latest health and safety regulations,” says KBAC Flooring health and safety representative Louise Ross.
She adds that although flooring might be a low-risk industry, the company works alongside various contractors on site, exposing its teams to different risks. Every company and person working on site needs to be aware of and trained in health and safety regulations.
“For example, before the job can begin, the fitters have to complete a full risk assessment of the area in which they will be working. This includes limiting the number of boxes carried individually, deciding which staircase or lift to use and whether to hoist or carry material,” she says.
On-site fitters need to wear full personal protective equipment, such as overalls, safety boots, bibs, hard hats, gloves and, if required, masks.
Once floor fitting starts, the health and safety risks to consider range from exposure to fumes and flammable adhesives, sustaining cuts from using trimming knives, injuries sustained while grinding screeds and from slipping on wet screeds, as well as gas-related accidents sustained during the use of welding guns.
Additionally, health and safety files have to be taken to site. Ross points out that these vital documents contain relevant safety plans, workmen’s compensation, letters of good standing, accident forms, emergency assessments, toolbox talks, mandatory appointments and checklists.
“As with all things in business, maintaining a safe environment involves teamwork. For the Sasol installation, KBAC had the positive and diligent senior contracts manager Werner Gouws, who, as team leader, not only encouraged but also monitored the implementation of safe working practices,” she says.
KBAC Flooring notes that it is part of a fast-paced industry that is growing and developing daily, with the Department of Labour constantly imposing stricter safety and health site regulations. However, the company does not regard this as a challenge, as it believes in protecting its most valuable asset – its staff.
“Health and safety does not stop with presenting a file, passing a safety audit and staff undergoing induction safety training . . . It is a daily process that needs to be done by everyone: if all staff take the ‘buddy’ approach and ensure that work colleagues are safe on site there will be fewer accidents on site,” Ross mentions.
Promoting a Safety Culture
Master Builders South Africa (MBSA) – which hosts the annual Master Builder Safety Awards – and the MBA North promote a positive occupational health and safety culture, which contributes to a reduction in or elimination of occupational injury, disease, loss and the prevention of damage to the environment. Compliance with the law and the wellbeing of employer and employee is the foremost concern of MBSA.
The construction industry’s Health and Safety Competition had its origins in 1963, when the first Building Safety Competition was held by the National Occupational Safety Association (Nosa), in collaboration with MBSA. Only housekeeping was adjudicated then. In 1964, it was held as a national competition and it was extended to two categories – building and allied trades.
Currently, the competition is a comprehensive, well supported yearly event, open to all name members and Federated Employers Mutual Assurance Company policy holders. Companies compete in ten different categories. Regional competitions are held by each of the associations and their winners are entered into the national competition.
MBSA arranges the national judging of the sites entered for the competition. About 40 to 50 sites are entered on a yearly basis. MBSA notes that the number of entries are always gratifying, as are the extremely high standard of health and safety regulations to which entrants subscribe.
Regional and national safety award ceremonies are held yearly to pay tribute to those who excelled in health and safety, and thus contributed towards the prevention of on-site fatalities and injuries.