In the right places at the right times

By Eamonn Ryan

Kobus van Wyngaardt (33) has been appointed the new SAFCEC national advisor: SHERQ with effect from 1 February, bringing considerable experience and qualifications to the role. He holds a master’s degree in management of technology and innovation within business management from the Da Vinci Institute, completed in 2017.

Steelwork on bridge

Workers in safety gear working on the GeoSciences building in Pretoria North.

His journey in the field of health and safety began in 2006 when he was appointed as a safety officer at a mining project undertaken by Aveng Grinaker-LTA Earthworks Engineering in Middelburg, followed by various other projects around the country, such as the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup stadia; the Eskom Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme; as well as the designated SHE manager for contracts under Sanral’s Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project. Van Wyngaardt was appointed as the divisional SHE manager for Aveng Grinaker-LTA Rand Roads where he oversaw all SHE-related aspects, prior to moving to the Mechanical & Electrical division as the SHE manager on projects including the Glencore Mine project and Eskom Kusile Power Station project. The latter position included assisting with the development and implementation of risk reduction programmes within Aveng Grinaker-LTA, assisting in the development and implementation of mechanical and electrical SHE management systems.

His need to gain a better understanding of the role that SHERQ implementation and management plays in the construction sector has seen him actively seeking out roles in civils, roadworks, earthworks, manufacturing, and building. While obtaining this qualification, he simultaneously developed a risk reduction programme for construction projects, which improves aspects such as safety performance through the enhancement of leadership, culture, behaviour, attitude, and the physical environment. This achievement speaks to his personal mantra of ‘Through creativity and innovation, the problems of today become the opportunities of tomorrow’.

Steph Swanepoel, SAFCEC national manager: Marketing & Communications, says: “Team SAFCEC welcome Kobus into the SAFCEC Advisory Services fold. We are certain that in his role as SAFCEC’s national advisor: SHERQ, his aspiration to ensure that the industry reduces all aspects of risk will be achieved through the provision of quality advisory service to members so that they may improve, apply, and understand SHERQ management and risk reduction.”

Great inspirations

Van Wyngaardt worked his entire career with Aveng Grinaker-LTA (13 years) until joining SAFCEC. “Because the company Aveng Grinaker-LTA has such a large footprint in multiple disciplines, I was able to gain experience in various disciplines, all from a SHERQ perspective. I have always believed that as a safety practitioner within the construction sector, you are required to be knowledgeable in all construction activities and phases, as it impacts the assessment of hazards and risks facing employees on a daily basis.

“When I commenced my working life, I was mentored by Ray Strydom, who was at that time the SAFCEC national SHERQ advisor and who introduced me to the field of occupational health and safety. I started accompanying him to various construction projects where I was exposed to the role of safety management within construction, even before I began working. I also started with some training on occupational health and safety while my interest in it grew. That interest was prompted by the realisation that it connected well with my personality, along with the things in life that I find interesting. I’ve always been the type of person who assesses the consequences or risk associated with anything I was doing — even subconsciously as a child. Before rushing into something, I would step back and determine the process involved. Although only after I began meeting up with Ray and being exposed to and learning about the safety industry, did I realise that this was what I wanted to do.

“Almost inadvertently, I had started on the road to SHERQ but when I formally set out on that career path, I found I thoroughly enjoyed it, as it was something where I could make a difference within the field of health and safety, looking at the way people do things and, if possible, assist to ensure a safer outcome,” says Van Wyngaardt.

Great experiences

Notwithstanding the tough few years suffered by the construction industry, he claims his experience in working on diverse projects has been extremely informative. Of the projects he’s been involved in, he says: “Technically, so much has happened over the past decade in the field of construction — building infrastructure such as the construction of the 2010 stadia, power stations, and various high-rise buildings. Being exposed to all the various activities and levels of risk involved during the constructing of these major projects was a great experience for me. The management of people during the implementation of SHERQ management was a major component in achieving the results we aim for.”

Van Wyngaardt believes that the standards of health and safety in South Africa when compared to the rest of the world “require improvement even though there are pockets of excellence as well”.

“In South Africa, I believe that an opportunity exists for companies to be more innovative and creative during the management of SHERQ, taking into consideration the diversity of the construction industry including the unique challenges being faced on a daily basis. The construction industry furthermore plays a significant role across South Africa with regard to the upskilling of people, providing them with the knowledge and experience that could change lives.”

Great expectations

Van Wyngaardt relishes the challenge of stimulating networking on SHERQ by hosting discussions of groups of members to develop ‘best practices’, so as to ultimately make a difference to all members, including emerging contractors and still-to-become members.

Van Wyngaardt is based at the SAFCEC National Office in Bedfordview, Johannesburg, and can be contacted telephonically on +27 (0) 11 409 0900, or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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