Health and safety

      ITEM: 2010   2009  
  Employees who attended ACT 9 498   9 072  
    Employees counselled 9 356   8 940  
    Employees tested 7 987   7 582  
    Employees who know their HIV status 7 625   7 224  
      Employees registered on ARV programmes (% of predicted HIV infected who have registered) 39   37  

Health and safety

Compliance to safety standards is achieved through regular and thorough internal safety audits the results of which are presented at board meetings at both executive and operational levels of the group’s management structures. The group recognises that the health and safety of its employees is critical to its ongoing sustainability and success.


As valued stakeholders, the safety of employees, contractors and the communities in which we operate remains of the highest concern to the group.

While the overall responsibility for the safety of our stakeholders lies with the board, the management of each individual business unit is held accountable for the implementation of the safety management system within their operations. Furthermore through various ongoing initiatives the group strives to create a culture where employees assume an equal responsibility for their own safety within their working environment.

The safety management system (SMS) has been designed and implemented to achieve, among others, the following key objectives:

  • to achieve and maintain the highest practicable level of safety control in all areas of the group’s operations
  • identify, manage and monitor hazardous risks
  • to meet and where possible exceed legal and other requirements
  • to facilitate the training of both operational and safety personnel
  • to ensure compliance to safety standards

The SMS was recently evaluated against the OHSAS 18001: Standard, an international safety management standard and the group intends to be fully certified by the end of the 2010 calendar year. Several external legal compliance audits have been conducted on various sites as well as at the group’s head office.

One of the outputs of the SMS is the group baseline risk assessment which provides information on all identified risks as well as the frequency of injuries occurring while performing those tasks where such risks are present. From the baseline risk assessment the group develops its future safety interventions and training initiatives.

The following risks were identified as having an unacceptable number of related injuries this year:

  • medical fitness of employees
  • mobile telephone use on construction sites
  • material handling
  • scaffold erection and dismantling

Mitigating actions taken include:

  • All operational employees are required to take annual medicals the results of which are recorded on the SMS which also identifies those employees who require re-examination.
  • A mobile phone policy was introduced in the latter half of the year where the use of mobile telephones on construction sites was prohibited other than in designated areas.
  • On-site awareness and skills training was provided to employees to reduce the occurrence of injuries relating to material handling and scaffold erection and dismantling.

Compliance to safety standards is achieved through regular and thorough internal safety audits the results of which are presented at board meetings at both executive and operational levels of the group’s management structures.

The group further reduced its LTIFR from 2,1 in 2009 to 1,5 this year, well below the target of 2,0 set at the beginning of the year. The target for the 2011 financial year has been set at 1,5 lost-time injuries per million man-hours worked. The group has also begun to track its recordable case rate (RCR) ratio which measures injury related claims submitted to relevant authorities. In other words, over and above lost time injuries the RCR also measures other serious injuries requiring hospital care or treatment from a medical practitioner. The number of Workman’s Compensation claims registered decreased from 361 claims in 2009 to 204 claims in 2010. In conjunction with the decrease in the LTIFR this is a solid indication that safety levels within working environments are continuously improving. The RCR target set for the year ahead is 0,5.

Whilst every year the group strives for zero fatalities, regrettably four fatalities were recorded this year (2009: three) and our sincerest sympathies are extended to the affected families and friends.

Safety achievements attained this year include 2 000 000 lost time injury (LTI) free hours at the Plant yard in Midrand, 4 000 000 LTI free hours in the Roads and Earthworks division, over 1 500 000 LTI free hours in the Civil engineering division and 1 500 000 LTI free hours on the Mall of the North project in Polokwane. The Kolonade Shopping Centre and the General Motors warehouse were placed first in their respective regional MBA safety competitions.


The group recognises that the health of its employees is critical to its ongoing sustainability and success. To this end the group endeavours to identify both occupational and societal health risks facing our employees and implement initiatives directed at assisting employees to deal with these threats.

In 2006 WBHO identified HIV/Aids as a serious threat facing a significant number of our employees. Since then the group has implemented an ongoing HIV/Aids awareness programme through various initiatives including information posters distributed to sites; participation in the annual Aids week Bannerthon; industrial theatre and voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) on World Aids day. Additionally the group provides access to a recognised and experienced managed healthcare service provider.

To date a total of 9 498 employees have participated in voluntary awareness, counselling and testing interventions, of which 99% were counselled and 84% volunteered to be tested for HIV. Of those individuals who volunteered to be tested 95% wished to be informed of their HIV status. This is a particularly significant statistic, as it reflects a high level of understanding amongst our employees of the importance of knowing their HIV status.

WBHO provides funded anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment to permanent employees who are diagnosed as HIV positive and who are not covered by a medical aid. Those employees who do not qualify for the ARV treatment programme funded by WBHO, are counselled for a year by the healthcare service provider and referred to the State for treatment.

Of concern is the fact that only 39% of HIV positive employees have registered onto an ARV managed programme. In order to improve registration onto these programmes the group, through its service provider, has procured the services of a clinical assistant to attend site toolbox talks in order to educate and encourage employees of the benefits of the programmes.

WBHO compliments all involved in the brave decision that they made, both in discovering their own status as well as taking the necessary steps to ensure the well-being of themselves and those around them.