Safetember all about heights

The annual Safetember campaign returns with a focus on preventing falls from heights – the second most-common cause of fatal accidents in the construction industry

In September of each year, the Federated Employer’s Mutual (FEM) Assurance Company hosts its Safetember initiative to educate the construction industry on the most common accidents that lead to fatalities, and ways to make the workplace safe.

“Safetember was initiated to draw attention to the high number of construction-related accidents and, more importantly, to educate both employers and employees in the prevention of such accidents,” explains Herman Enoch, marketing and communication manager at FEM.

“It is important to FEM, as we firmly believe that every accident is preventable and that an industry with zero accidents is achievable.”

The 2019 Safetember initiative will focus on safely working at heights, as falls from heights is the second most-common cause for fatal accidents in the construction industry after motor-vehicle accidents – the focus of previous Safetember initiatives.

“Fatalities as a result of falls from heights are second only to motor-vehicle accidents and account for around 10 to
20 percent of total fatalities annually,” Enoch notes. He adds that it is not possible to pinpoint the most common causes, but there are a few issues requiring attention.

“There are themes of incorrect use of personal protective equipment (PPE), poor safety standards and unsafe working environments that precede fatal accidents.” Most of these common causes are preventable – a key message from FEM through its Safetember initiative.

Enoch further adds that simply providing employees who work at heights with the correct quality PPE does not prevent accidents. He says: “Just supplying PPE is not enough. There has to be education provided and continuous reinforcement on the correct use of the PPE. In addition, ongoing site inspections need to take place to ensure a safe working environment.

“Safety should not be viewed as a grudge purchase. The cost of the correct quality PPE or expenses to make an area safe is far lower than the cost of an accident.” The financial burden of an injured or deceased employee on a company includes much more than just the direct costs, Enoch explains.

“While insurance covers the direct costs, such as medical and pension expenses, there are also the indirect costs that can have a very negative impact on an organisation,” he says. “Companies with a high number of claims submissions can be subject to a loading of their workmen’s compensation premiums.

“There are also costs associated with the events that occur after the accident, such as a site shutdown, trauma counselling for co-workers and union intervention. These can have a very negative effect on the bottom-line figures of an organisation.” Thus, ensuring the safety of all employees who work at height creates a better work environment and makes financial sense.

Through its 2019 Safetember initiative, FEM is offering occupational health and safety officers, employers and businesses the perfect opportunity to learn more about falls from heights and preventive measures through its various information sessions held throughout the country in September.

“We have engaged with industry experts to host sessions that are focused on PPE, training and the required legislation to help everyone in the industry achieve zero accidents,” Enoch explains.

The sessions are free to attend for anyone within the construction industry, but booking is essential due to the limited number of seats available.

Saiosh members can also receive continuing professional development (CPD) points if they attend.

To book a seat at one of the sessions, or for more information, contact FEM via email at When booking a seat, be sure to include the date and venue of the preferred session.

Create a safer environment for work at heights by taking advantage of the 2019 FEM Safetember information sessions today!

The sessions will take place on the following dates at these venues across South Africa:


City, Province


Seats available

September 4

Johannesburg, Gauteng

Killarney Country Club


September 10

Durban, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN)

KZN Master Builders Conference Centre


September 16

Nelspruit (Mbombela), Mpumalanga

Emnotweni Conference Centre


September 26

Cape Town, Western Cape

Grand West Conference Centre


September 20

Port Elizabeth (PE), Eastern Cape

Boardwalk Conference Centre


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