In recognition of its commitment to health and safety in the workplace, flooring company Kevin Bates Flooring & Carpeting (KBFAC) received the Master Builders Association (MBA) North category award for health and safety in 2014, contracting and safety administrator Louise Ross tells Engineering News.
She maintains that prioritising health and safety sets KBFAC apart from its competitors, which is important in the ultracompetitive carpeting industry. Ross asserts that, while price is a significant factor when working on the larger projects, health and safety management is equally important.
All team leaders at KBFAC undergo extensive three-day health and safety training courses provided by MBA North, in compliance with health and safety regulations, she adds.
Once team leaders complete the course, they assist in training their colleagues in workplace health and safety procedure. Ross admits, however, that the language barrier between English-speaking managers and the fitters, who are predominantly Zulu- and Xhosa-speaking, makes the communication of health and safety methods challenging.
Further, KBFAC ensures that its employees have undergone medical evaluations by a registered medical practitioner and are fit to work on site.
KBFAC predominantly uses more expensive nontoxic, nonflammable glues – supplied mainly by adhesives suppliers Qualichem Adhesives and Pekay – which Ross believes have been a catalyst in enabling KBFAC to improve its health and safety standards. She tells Engineering News that, except for when there is no alternative, such as when installing old types of vinyl flooring, KBFAC no longer uses toxic glues.
At the tender phase of a project, KBFAC ensures that the health and safety policies and guidelines are clearly stated. “We’ve got a good reputation with the Federated Employers Mutual Assurance Company and the Department of Labour. Kevin Bates has always done its best to follow correct procedure.”
She adds that KBFAC’s reputation for adherence to health and safety regulations ensures that the work process not only runs more smoothly but also saves the company time.
Ross also highlights that failure to implement sufficient health and safety measures could result in severe losses – in terms of downtime and reputation – especially if a serious injury or fatality were to occur on site.
The fact that KBFAC has been a member of MBA North for 45 years and that CFO Neil Duncan is a previous president act as an incentive for the company to remain beyond reproach regarding its health and safety policy, she adds.
The Johannesburg branch of KBFAC, and its sister branch, Albert Carpets, in Cape Town have a total staff complement of 180 people, all of whom adhere to the company’s health and safety policy. KBFAC also employs about 12 subcontractors, comprising about 60 employees in total, all of whom are also required to strictly uphold the company’s policy.