Construction and civil engineering industry professionals are reluctant to join medical aid schemes, citing monetary concerns as a primary deterrent.
The Building and Construction Industry Medical Aid Fund (BCIMA) states that this is a concerning trend, given the number of work-related injuries and fatalities associated with these industries.
The Construction Industry Development Board’s report on construction health and safety in South Africa cites the industry as having long contributed disproportionately to the number of work-related fatalities and injuries globally, as one in every six work-related fatalities occur at construction sites.
BCIMA broker relationships manager Ferdi Snyman says with employee risk levels in the building, construction and civil engineering industries being so high, medical aid in these industries ought to be compulsory. “The BCIMA is working towards creating a greater awareness among [affected] groups [in these industries] to get their members covered.”
He reiterates that workers claim that they cannot afford to join any medical aid scheme, owing to a lack of funds, despite employers who offer the BCIMA as a medical aid scheme having elected to pay 50% of the membership contribution on behalf of employees.
“The health and wellbeing of workers in these high-risk industries ought to be of paramount importance. We have undertaken several projects to spread awareness of the importance of health and safety precautions in these industries,” he points out.
One such project is Training on the Move, also known as TOM. This includes the sponsoring of the South African Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors (SAFCEC) and the Master Builders Association – North (MBA – North) safety vehicles. The two SAFCEC and one MBA-North safety vehicles currently in operation travel as far as Windhoek, Namibia, to Cape Town, South Africa. The TOM safety vehicle programme manages safety training on site at SAFCEC and MBA-North member companies.
BCIMA states that it would support a collective bargaining council decision to introduce compulsory medical aid cover in these industries. “Total medical aid cover would be a benefit for employee and employer . . . because, if you hope to achieve maximum production levels, you need healthy employees,” concludes Snyman.