Safety or the Money?

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After some 15 years, we had to re-thatch the roof of our cottage, “Isidleke” (meaning “the nest” in Zulu).

There is something truly African about a thatched roof … the smell of the freshly cut grass, the natural yellow colour, as well as the rough, yet smooth, texture and a natural, but unholy mess of grass all over the show.

There is another aspect to thatching projects.

Although it requires a lot of skill to do a neat thatch, it is a low level skill and the profit margin is very tight. Hence, it is entrepreneurs with few resources who are in the thatching business. The bakkie used is often a clapped out “skedonks”, leaking oil onto the driveway, and don’t even get me started on the tools and equipment which are enough to send any safety professional into a flat spin. The safety standards are all but non-existent – working at heights without any safety harness and PPE – going against all safety rules.

Now, here is the dilemma.

If you, the average home owner, insist on safety harnesses, professional scaffolding with inspection certificates, full PPE and all the rest of the good safety procedures, you will not be able to get a contractor who will do this job at an affordable price. The result? Most will get the job done by a contractor who offers a reasonable price and good quality and simply hope for the best.

I have no actual figures, but, on researching this, found very few reports of “falling from heights” accidents in the informal sector, which surprised me.

It is tough to walk YOUR talk in SAFETY, if it touches YOUR purse, and this often holds true for most companies as well.

 Be safe – the SIMPLY SMART way,


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