South Africa. East London businesswoman Shelly Turner built her own company around the need for Occupational Health and Safety compliance among emerging contractors in the Eastern Cape.
Shelly Turner started IWM Consulting, which aims to help contractors comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act .
“I was approached by an emerging contractor four years ago who said he really needed an HIV/Aids programme for his workers. So I developed specific training units based on HIV/Aids specifications from the Department of Public Works’ tender documents. The units were designed from scratch and with the help of (television series) Soul City, I commissioned a video to go with the course.”
Turner, who has a social work background, owned a training centre for security guards at the time.
When Turner started marketing the business she was surprised by how little contractors knew about the basic health and safety requirements needed for effectively managing building projects.
“When I went into the market people were completely blank, they knew the Act was there, but it was never enforced. I have found that contractors will only take health and safety serious if it is enforced by the government.
“The Eastern Cape has many accidents taking place (on construction sites) . About 10 percent of complying projects have injuries, which is quite high. There should actually be zero accidents ,” she said.
As a result, the business evolved from providing HIV/Aids training to implementing and monitoring a contractors’ entire safety plans .
“The business’ growth was very slow at first, but from January this year we have grown a lot. Our turnover has increased about 30 to 35 percent (over the first six months of this year),” Turner said.
The Reverend Xolani Tengo, who heads the black business chamber Nafcoc’s construction arm, Nafcon, said there was currently an occupational health and safety “crisis” among the province’s emerging contractors.
“We are concerned about the high rate of accident claims from emerging and even established contractors. In addition, many contractors are dying of stress and HIV/Aids,” he said.
Source: Daily Dispatch Online
By Roux van Zyl