The Federated Employers Mutual Assurance Company (RF) (Pty) Ltd (“FEM”) is licensed to conduct non-life insurance business.
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FEM registers alarming number of injuries in local construction industry

For the period 2015 to 2021, there were 54,964 injuries on construction sites that required medical attention. This is according to Federated Employers Mutual Assurance Company (FEM). The company also noted that on average, 36 of its members are injured on construction sites daily.

To address these high injury statistics, FEM has launched its ‘Zero Is No Accident’ campaign to raise awareness of construction site injuries. It aims to get the industry onboard and committed to reducing high accident rates.

Two of the major types of injuries sustained on construction sites were ‘falling to different levels’ and ‘struck by’. These are standard statistical reporting categories used to record and report incidents both nationally and internationally.

Of the 54,964 injuries that required medical attention, 5,842 ‘falling to different levels’ cases were recorded along with 18,165 ‘struck by’ cases, accounting for 44% of all accidents and 35% of fatal accidents.

Medical cost over R1bn

In addition, the two incidents accounted for 120 out of 243 people becoming permanently disabled, representing 5% of total disabilities during that period. The medical costs attributed to these two types of injuries totalled over R1bn or 44% of the total cost of injuries between 2015 and 2021.

Accidents in the industry continued despite Covid-19 and its impact on construction activity. In the 24 months to December 2021, 12,317 accidents were reported to FEM. The top four accident categories were ‘struck by’ with 4,032 incidents, ‘slip or over-exertion’ with 1,743 accidents, ‘striking against’ with 1,484 accidents, and ‘motor vehicle accidents’ with 1,086 accidents. In addition, 1,046 work-related Covid-19 incidents were reported. These figures, in most cases, align with international trends, FEM said.

According to the statistics, in addition to the human impact and the operational impact from a business perspective, each accident on average cost R51,494 of workmen compensation benefits. The accident cause with the highest average cost was ‘contact with electric current’ at R185,000 per injury average.

‘Zero accidents is achievable’

“We firmly believe that every accident is preventable and that a construction industry with zero accidents is achievable,” said FEM CEO Ndivhuwo Manyonga.

“The figures relate only to employers who are insured by FEM. We estimate that the FEM policyholders employ around 50% of the formal workforce within construction. The actual number of accidents across the entire industry is higher than what is reported to FEM, considering that injuries are also likely to occur in the informal construction sector,” she added.

“The initiative seeks to educate, influence and create advocacy around health and safety (H&S) in the industry. FEM regularly engages with lives that are severely affected by workplace safety. Whether it be a loss of life, an injury, a claim, or a settlement, lives are changed by these events.”

Training needs to be intensified

Manyonga explained that training needs to be intensified regarding H&S protocols and processes. “Employees are required to hold their employers accountable when these processes are not adhered to, and vice versa. Employers who are neglecting health and safety processes can be reported to the Department of Employment and Labour inspectors.”

“Stringent measures also need to be put in place to reduce the number of injuries. This can be achieved by creating a safe working environment and ensuring that employees receive proper training.”

“To lower the level of onsite accidents, employers must also ensure that their workforce is constantly trained on issues relating to H&S,” Manyonga said.

Access FEM accident statistics here.


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