Climbing this ladder no joke as workers live on the edge

TEAMWORK: Cape Construction rigger Sphiwa Jitwa passes rigging from ground level to a colleague at the Kings Beach Garden Court   Picture:  MIKE HOLMES -
TEAMWORK: Cape Construction rigger Sphiwa Jitwa passes rigging from ground level to a colleague at the Kings Beach Garden Court Picture: MIKE HOLMES –

WHILE some professions involve climbing the corporate ladder, others require employees to climb metal bars and spend the day suspended above several floors as is the case with scaffolding construction.

The high-risk profession sees thousands of South Africans risking their lives on a daily basis to beautify and develop everything from hospitals and schools to corporate buildings.

Over the past month, a group of about 25 of these seemingly fearless men and women have been setting up scaffolding for the refurbishments planned for the Garden Court Hotel in Humewood.

“It is a very dangerous profession, with workers running the risk of falling off the scaffolding or having something fall on them. Which is why we use both the hand and ball method, and grip and twist method to transport material,” SGB Cape Construction safety officer Stephan Stander said.

“The workers stand in a straight line, one on top of the other. Passing material hand to hand while using the grip and twist, which means the person receiving will grip and twist the object to make the person below him aware that he can let go.”

Kwazekhele resident Siyabulela Kama, who has been working in construction for four years, said: “It is exhausting. Imagine carrying beams all day. And then on top of that there are no lifts. If you need to be on the 10th floor, you must climb there.”

Another construction worker, Olwethu Mtwazi of Kwazakhele, agreed.

“Falling over is a real risk and working in PE at that height you have to be aware that wind can blow you over the side of the scaffolding at any time,” Mtwazi said.

-Tremaine van Aardt 

A human elevator at the Holiday Inn garden Court where workers hand bricks to each other to get supplies to the top floor
A human elevator at the Holiday Inn garden Court where workers hand bricks to each other to get supplies to the top floor

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