WORKPLACE ACCIDENTS: A REVIEW OF FEM CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY STATISTICS
The Federated Employers Mutual Assurance Company (RF) Proprietary Limited (FEM) 2022 statistics show a continuance of high occupational injury rates in the construction industry. The insights highlight the urgency for increased health and safety training, as well as the need for improved safety measures to be implemented by both employers and employees.
The 2022 data, extracted as at May 2023, shows 6 077 reported accidents for the year, with “struck by” accident category (comprising accidents such as being struck by a motor vehicle while working next to a public road, struck by falling items like bricks or timber boards; and similar incidents) being the leading cause of injuries at a massive 32,4% .
The five leading accident causes for 2022 are:
▪ “Struck by” – 1 968 accidents
▪ “Slip or over-exertion” – 906 accidents
▪ “Striking Against” – 765 accidents
▪ Motor vehicle accidents – 666 accidents
▪ “Fall on to different levels” – 547 accidents
Of the incidents reported last year, 47 of these resulted in a tragic loss of life, with motor vehicle accidents being the cause of 21 of the 47 fatalities for 2022. For 2022 alone, 579 accidents resulted in a permanent disability.
The statistics relate to employers insured by FEM only, which is an estimated 50% of the formal construction workforce in South Africa. FEM is one of two organisations providing workmen’s compensation cover for the construction industry.
As the data is compiled using reported accidents by FEM policyholders, the situation is even more dire as there remains a number of unreported accidents, particularly those occurring in the informal construction sector.
From a financial perspective, the average cost per accident is R72 883, with motor vehicle accidents averaging the highest as a category at R143 252 per accident. The cumulative number of lost work days is reported at a whopping 57 891 days for the year.
FEM consolidated statistics for the last 7 years (from 2016 to 2022, extracted as of May 2023 ) reflect the following concerning figures:
▪ 52 899 injuries requiring medical attention
▪ Of the 52 899 reported accidents, 17 206 were “struck by” incidents, making up 32.5% of reported accidents over this period
▪ On average (based on the number of working days within this period), there were 30 accidents per day
▪ 4 942 accidents resulted in permanent disabilities over the 7-year period, with 251 of these resulting in a pension
▪ Between 2016 and 2022, there were 455 fatalities, with 42.4% of deaths occurring as a result of motor vehicle accidents
FEM CEO Ndivhuwo Manyonga is adamant that every accident is preventable. She states, “Workplace safety is the responsibility of both employers and employees – employers need to ensure that all health and safety measures are in place, including ongoing staff training. Employees need to adhere to health and safety processes, policies and industry best practices.”
On a positive note, 2022 statistics show an overall decline in workplace accidents, with numbers dropping from 6 794 reported cases in 2021 to 6 077 cases reported in 2022 – a reduction of 717 cases. Fatalities also declined, with 12 fewer fatalities in 2022 (47 deaths recorded) versus 2021 numbers (59 deaths recorded).
Manyonga believes that safety and awareness campaigns play a pivotal role in decreasing the number of workplace incidents. “Initiatives such as the FEM Zero is No Accident campaign raise awareness on the root causes of workplace accidents in the construction industry. The campaign includes educating both employers and employees on workplace health and safety matters, aimed at reducing the unacceptably high accident rates while enabling full COIDA compliance in the construction industry”.
To access FEM accident statistics, click here: https://bit.ly/3oVjNGo