Stakeholders in the construction sector are to sign a historic accord on Friday aimed at improving safety in the industry.
These include stakeholders from business, organised labour, government, civil society groups and academics.
The event, which is being hosted by the Department of Labour, forms part of sector-specific accords, which focus on the top four unsafe fields in the country, including construction, iron and steel, agriculture and manufacturing.
The ceremony, in Boksburg, will follow speeches by representatives of organised business, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, National Council of Trade Unions, as well as the Federation of Unions of South Africa. Department of Labour director-general Nkosinathi Nhleko will speak on the role of the department in improving the status of health and safety in the construction industry.
"The decision to give this industry a special focus next week is driven by our desire to ensure that health and safety occupies a central place in the decisions of bankers, investors and designers," said Phumi Maphaha, manager in the department responsible for occupational health and safety.
"It is unacceptable that we spent R2.3-billion, R2.5-billion and R2.7-billion in the last three financial years in compensation towards health and safety-related claims in the construction sector," he said.
Maphaha said he was convinced that with the buy-in from all stakeholders, the figures could be halved and the money put to better use.
According to the latest figures, the sector contributes 16% towards South Africa's gross domestic product, employing just under 1.8-million workers.
Maphaha said attempts should be made to reduce the death toll currently standing at 50 per year.