The Owners Responsibility for Health and Safety

House-collapseFollowing the events of 18 August 2014, where a house collapsed in Meyersdal Eco Estate killing 9 workers, the CCHA would like to bring to the attention of the CCHA owners currently building within the estate, their liability in respect of the Construction safety duties and responsibilities.  To further support the need for this communication, an audit was conducted by an appointed  specialist Health and Safety company during the course of August 2014 which indicates that majority of the sites are not compliant in terms of the Construction Regulations Act of 1996. and new amendments which came into effect on the 7th of August 2014. The CCHA wishes to record that as a result of non-compliance, property owners currently involved in construction activity on their respective sites are at significant risk in their personal capacity and penalties range from site closures, monetary fines and in extreme cases, a charge of culpable homicide which carries a minimum of a 2 year prison term.


Construction safety duties and responsibilities not just for contractors

Edmond Furter January 24, 2013              

Construction safety duties and responsibilities not just for contractors

Jacques Maree writes on property sectional title and property client health and safety duties.

Construction safety duties and responsibilities are not just for the construction client’s contractors. An owner, manager or sectional title body corporate may be liable, writes Jacques Maree.

Every property owner, facilities manager or sectional title body corporate board has several legal duties for health and safety in construction, renovation or maintenance, despite using contractors.

The general perception among property owners and managers is that the duty to provide a safe and healthy working environment in construction, renovation and maintenance, rests with contractors. In essence this may be so, but certain requirements provide for liability of owners.

Property owners’ legal duties

In section 1 of the Construction Regulations of 2003, under authority of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 85 of 1993, construction work is defined as “erection, maintenance, alteration, renovation, repair, demolition or dismantling of or addition to a building or any similar structure”.

A Client is any person for whom construction work is performed, and Client duties are clearly listed in section 4;

1.Prepare a health and safety specification for the construction work.
2.Provide the contractor with any information pertaining to health and safety that may affect any person performing the work.
3.Appoint each contractor in writing.
4.Take reasonable steps to ensure that the contractor(s) health and safety plan is implemented and maintained.
5.Stop any work not done in accordance with the health and safety plan.
6.If there are changes to the work, to provide sufficient further information and resources.
7.Ensure that every contractor is registered with a compensation fund or licensed compensation insurer prior to any work being carried out.
8.Ensure that, at the tender stage, all contractors have budgeted for health and safety measures during the construction process.

The required health and safety specification is a list of health and safety requirements pertaining to the intended construction work on site, so as to ensure the health and safety of persons.

A health and safety plan is a written plan that addresses hazards identified and includes procedures to mitigate, reduce or control them.

Many reputable contractors, such as Master Builders SA members, make provision for the health and safety requirements at the tender stage and take measures to ensure their compliance. Many informal or small contractors and ‘bakkie builders’ do not.

It is recommended that the trustees take active steps to ensure that the health and safety specifications are prepared and that, during the course of the renovations, the contractors and their employees comply with such specifications and plans. It is imperative that they do not turn a blind eye.

Need for HS consultant depends on risk

Obtaining the services of a health and safety consultant who takes measures to ensure compliance with health and safety requirements and conducts periodic audits thereafter, is not always necessary. It depends on the risks of the workplace and the type of persons employed.

All sectional title bodies corporate, at some stage, will perform construction work as defined in the Construction Regulations. Therefore, in such instances, compliance with health and safety requirements is essential.

Owners, managers and trustees, as construction clients, have a duty to comply with health and safety requirements and to safeguard themselves and the body corporate against potential claims arising from any injuries or death caused as a result of any work.

Failure to comply with the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Construction Regulations may result in personal liability.

Contractors are not, in terms of current labour legislation, considered as employees of the client or body corporate in current legislation, but current law clearly spells out certain duties.

•This post is an extract from an article by Jacques Maree in Paddocks Press, cited in the Statusmark and Rent-a-Property Newsletter. He is a sectional title and homeowners’ association specialist attorney at Jacques Maree attorneys.

•The legal relationship between Clients, Contractors and Employees may change, and place more duties and liability on owners, according to an investigation by Wits University into a complaint about workplace conditions on its campus.

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