South Africa: Safety Milestone Achieved on Msikaba Bridge Construction

Concor-MECSA Joint venture records 2.5 million Lost Time Injury free hours over 1,000 days

16th July 2022

The CME JV (Concor-MECSA Construction Joint Venture) on 24 May marked another safety milestone on the Msikaba Bridge project, with 2.5 million Lost Time Injury (LTI) Free hours in 1,000 days.

“This is a fantastic achievement by the JV team, given that this is an extremely challenging project which involves working at extreme heights and in excavations up to 20 metres deep, often in very confined conditions. There is also a need for blasting, which, of course, comes with its own risks which have to be very carefully managed,” said contracts director Laurence Savage

Savage said some structures use High-Density Reinforced Concrete, which puts pressure on the construction teams. The JV’s work also includes a bulk earthworks operation for constructing the approach roads, with a dozen large earthmoving machines handling cut-to-fill activities. 

Some structures use High Density Reinforced Concrete which places additional demands on the construction teams
Some of the bridge structures require High Density Reinforced Concrete which places additional demands on the construction teams

“We’re extremely proud to have reached this safety milestone and everyone on site deserves to be congratulated on this impressive performance,” he said.

Savage stressed that safety is a core value for the JV partners. “There is nothing more important than ensuring that our people work on a safe site and that they return home every day unharmed. The importance of safe practices is ingrained in every worker on site, and we all understand that the goal is ‘Zero Harm’. The safety culture is underpinned by Concor’s ‘Stop. Think. Act’ awareness philosophy and our ‘Care’ value – Care for one another, Care for yourself and take Care in the environment you are working in.”

During the daily morning briefing, the team reviews the day’s tasks and how to accomplish them safely. A half-an-hour later, the managers report on and review all safety matters at their meeting.

Savage said the JV understands the role of management as custodians of the safety culture. “This is the principle of Visible Felt Leadership,” he said.

“How we act, re-act and manage ourselves has a direct impact on how our people working on the project, take decisions, prioritise, and act. This leadership from management allows employees at all levels to understand and ‘feel’ the importance that is attached to safety. No one is left in doubt that working safely is a non-negotiable principle.”

The Msikaba Bridge project is part of the new N2 toll road between Port Edward and Umtata in the Eastern Cape. A 580-metre-long cable-stayed structure, it will span the 198-metre-deep Msikaba Gorge – making it one of the highest bridges in Africa – and forms part of the N2 Wild Coast project by the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL).

It includes two pylons that will stand 128 metres high on each side of the gorge and support the bridge deck with a network of 34 cable tendons strung through their upper reaches.

The JV team has reached the most challenging phase of the project – construction of the pylon superstructure (which will entail working to the 128-metre height of the pylons) and the deck segment lifting activities that will cause the north and south banks to be connected mid-span across the gorge. Exposure to severe winds with gusts of nearly 100 km/h at the site complicates the work. These two major construction activities will simultaneously complete the pylon build while the deck launch begins.  

“These activities are requiring the highest levels of risk management to be undertaken on a mega- construction project,” said Savage. “Everything will obviously be pre-planned to the last detail and we’re confident that our intensive preparations will allow the work to be accomplished safely and further extend the project’s excellent safety record.”

Top Photo: The Msikaba Bridge project includes working at extreme height, often in confined conditions

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