Which is a more dangerous job: mining or construction?

Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

Both the mining and construction industries are notorious for being dangerous. But which industry poses the greater risk of serious injury or death to workers?

Although the labour department is responsible for compiling accurate statistics, no figures areavailable. Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana commented recently that under-reportage of workplace accidents is his biggest headache.

The construction industry could be risky because many small construction firms have popped up, which established companies claim do not have the skills to run safe building sites.

On the other hand mining is inherently more dangerous than construction, according to Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) health and safety policy co-ordinator Jacqueline Mpolokeng Bodibe. Miners face several dangers such as dust, rock bursts and explosions.

But mine workers are better protected than construction workers. Miners have the right to refuse to carry out dangerous work and they have better organised trade unions.

Gus Mckintosh, chief information officer of Federated Employers Mutual Assurance said: "An average of four out of 100 workers are injured or die in the construction industry, which has more than 450000 employees. The fatalities have reduced greatly due to the safety and health incentives that have been implemented by various industry organisations."

Education has proven to be vital to improving safety.

"There has been several training programmes for workers of both industries, which has led to the reduction of the injuries and deaths of the workers," Mckintosh said.