During October 2013, the Medupi power station construction site this month reached a significant milestone, achieving over 4.6 million man hours without a lost time injury (LTI). In this time the site avoided any injuries resulting in productive time lost or restricted physical activity for employees.
The milestone is notable for the size, scope and complexity of the Medupi project, the largest construction site in the southern hemisphere. The spread of the project requires many employees to commute and deliver materials by road and the scale of the site places workers at great heights and depths. At its peak the project employed about 18,000 employees from 28 different principal contractors and more than 250 subcontractors. The project is notably labour intensive; more cement has been poured at Medupi than at all the 2010 FIFA world cup soccer stadiums built in South Africa combined.
In 2012 a new health and safety management team was deployed to the site. The team aimed to raise the profile of safety measures and supervisors on site, improve relationships between contractors’ various safety managers, and identify as well as remedy special risk areas. Daily inspections and audits improved awareness of safety procedures, and close working relationships between various safety officers improved efficiency as well as trust.
In particular working at great heights was identified as a special risk area. A specialist partner worked to devise, implement, and monitor world-class best practice safety procedures. Employees at the site were educated on these new guidelines via intensive training supported by on-going inspections.
These measures have significantly reduced the number of injuries at Medupi over a notably short period of time. The lost time injury rate (LTIR), an industry measure of the number of employees injured per million man hours, fell by over 50% from 0.31 to 0.12 in just one year. In doing so Medupi has surpassed the industry standard, for which the Eskom-wide figure for all employees stands at 0.34.