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HANDY MAC: Take a tough line

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The reminder to have written proof of the figures and costs from contractors continues to be raised

Mrs Mac and I have said goodbye to the wedding party and life is getting back to its usual lifestyle of Mrs Mac dreaming up things for me to do. I have enjoyed the past month, and maybe I can begin considering slowing down a bit and smelling the roses.

But one still needs an income stream. It is amazing how we all realise the need for money, but don’t always see the needs of others. This came into my mailbox: We are a small company (SME) which is a service provider for a JSElisted company to whom we rendered our services in December, and they are refusing to pay us.

We had followed all their procurement processes of bidding where we were issued a job/ purchase order and after the first job was done they called us for another job, but this time without a job/purchase order as they claimed it was an emergency. The email unfortunately brings up many issues which continue to keep us all on the back foot in South Africa. If we treat people differently because we play the bully role, then we will never live in peace.

There are many ways to look at this situation. The most important rule for everyone, both client and contractor, is not do any work or have work done unless there is some type of written proof of the amounts involved.

The client is out of line for having issued a purchase order for the first work and refusing to pay against it. The contractor put himself at risk by doing the “emergency work” without obtaining some type of proof. Always confirm an instruction by email, WhatsApp or SMS. I am appealing to all employers to pay their contractors honestly. Times are tough.

Tip of the week

Check and recheck insurance to ensure you are well covered. Picture: Mario Gogh

I am not the best at following my own advice. I have been cleaning up my emails following the wedding and of course now find out I have skipped a few and one was my own insurance renewal papers.

So there I was issuing advice last week about insurance when my own shock was waiting in my inbox. Luckily the sums insured are correct, but it is the way things happen that annoys me.

The mail arrives from a no-reply email address, the person who handles my account has not phoned me to see if I am happy and finally my insurers think I am just going to accept an 11% increase.

This seems high, so I will be digging around to find something else. I ask you again, check your insurance over again and read every letter of the fine print to make sure you have the right policy for the correct amounts of insurance.


Charles has taken me to task about observing proper health and safety standards and regulations, and I accept his admonishment. Hi Don, I went cold when I read part of your article on cleaning out your water tank.

Let me explain: I was in the oil and gas industry for most of my working life and alarm bells went off on reading your article on tank cleaning. Even if it is “just” a water tank the basic safety rules remain the same. I have experienced setting a plant alight by using fire water that was contaminated with oil unknown to the user at the time.

1 The fact that you allow and recommend an individual (even a slim person) entry into confined space made me shiver. Hopefully you are aware that this act could result in death of the person entering the vessel if you do not adhere strictly to clear safety guidelines for entry into confined spaces (not to mention failure of not wearing safety clothing/ equipment)?

2 Did you measure the oxygen content of the vessel before entry and during the clean-out operation?

3 The biggest contributor to death in confined spaces is when sludge is disturbed during the clean out of a tank resulting in the release of toxic gases.

4 A once-a-month clean out may be going overboard – especially during the rainy season when you need capacity to store. What about just before the rainy season starts then after first rain again?

If you have a question for Don, send it to or SMS only to 0824463859. 


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