Labour Department silent on request from OHS Practitioners

2014-11-29 15:03

The SA Department of Labour's Chief Inspector, Thobile Lamati, has not responded to a request from the National Institute of Organisational Compliance Consultants of SA, to change the Construction Regulations that was published under a cloud of secrecy in February 2014.

The request to change the regulations stems from the registration initiative launched by the DOL and its approved Statutory Council, the SACPCMP, referring to the forced registration of practitioners operating and employed as Safety officers.

NIOCCSA, launched an opinion pole on this issue, earlier this year and based on the response from practitioners, wrote to the DOL on 10 November 2014, requesting a change in the requirements.

According to a salary survey conducted in March 2014 by one of the two South African professional bodies for health & safety, Saiosh, amongst 318 practitioners, it was found that only 83% of these practitioners belong to a voluntary professional association. There are an estimated 15 000 practitioners in South Africa, of which a large number works in countries like the UK, UAE, India and Saudi-Arabia.

NIOCCSA requested the scrapping of their forced registration in fear that more scares skills will be excluded from the labour market, proposing that the DOL register health and safety people directly, as it registers electrical contractors and some other approved inspection authorities (AIAs).

“We refer to our public call for objections to enforced registration of Construction Health and Safety Officers via the SACPCMP. Based on the initial response, the majority of OHS practitioners oppose the registration.

“Before we lose more scares skills, please consider our proposal in the interest of the public at large. We herewith submit our formal request to amend the Construction Regulations in accordance with the attached proposal. The key motivations for this request are:

1. Registration to be handled by the Chief Inspector (DOL) directly in the same fashion as registration of Electrical Contractors.

2. Fees to be paid annually for the issue or update or replacement of Certificates of Registration.

3. The Chief Inspector may withdraw these certificates where an inquiry or investigation reveals incompetence or negligence.

4. Construction Health and Safety Officers are currently not engaged in Project Planning, Design Development and Contractor Procurement.

5. Construction Health & safety Officers are due to market demands and past practices, not properly trained to be involved in these stages.

6. Registration with the SACPCMP will not benefit the professional development of these individuals, and will add to unnecessary costs of construction.

7. The requirement for the appointment of a Construction Health & Safety Officer is not a strict liability on contractors, and will result in uncompetitive practices by large clients, preventing the EME contractor from participating in main stream business.

8. The criteria of the SACPCMP are not acceptable to the majority of Construction health & Safety officers.”

NIOCCSA still supports the SACPCMP in respect of Construction Health & Safety Agent registration, as contemplated in regulation 5(5) and (6). However the consultants will oppose any attempts of the SACPCMP to enforce their IDOW rules on Construction Health and Safety Officers and managers.

Future OHS practitioners must consider registration

“As an alternative, we will accept the exemption from registration with the SACPCMP of all health & safety practitioners who were qualified to NQF level 5, prior to the commencement of the Construction Regulations 2014 (7 February 2014).”

Sheqafrica.com queried NIOCCSA on whether this option may leave newcomers in health and safety practice in the same situation that current practitioners find unacceptable.

NIOCCSA replied; “Future practitioners will have the choice to enter the profession knowing what is required. This is standard practice for most professions. One of the reasons the current set-up is unacceptable, is that the criteria were developed without proper consultation with practitioners.

“If the DOL exempts current practitioners, it will strengthen the scrapping of registration with the SACPCMP. The proposed registration is directly with the DOL which should be a mere formality and not a lucrative business.

“It is unfair to penalise current practitioners just because the very industry insisting on this process, caused the perceived problems. Lower qualified practitioners are employed as site safety officers. These people as Candidates, would only create opportunities for unethical and corrupt activities and not serve the interest of the profession.

“We are not convinced that clients want skills benefits, other than to shift responsibility. Very few have since the new regulations issued properly drafted baseline risk assessments and site specific HS Specifications.

“We still find agents auditing contractors on standard forms, with no reference back to the ‘approved’ plans. We still find the engagement of agents at stage 4 only and no moves have been made to engage CHS Agents at stage 1. We still find the engineers and architects at the design risk function without H&S input.

“NIOCCSA will as currently only represent accredited consultants. Future practitioners will need a proven career path to get there. We would guide the DOL to raise the bar in terms of qualifications to NQF level 6.”

Proposed Construction Regulation Amendment 2015 [NIOCCSA DRAFT]

Construction regulation 8(6) should be amended as follows: No contractor may appoint a construction health and safety officer to assist in the control of health and safety related aspects on the site unless he or she is reasonably satisfied that the construction health and safety officer that he or she intends to appoint is registered by the Chief Inspector in terms of Regulation 3A and has necessary resources to assist the contractor.

Construction Regulation 3A – Application for registration as a registered person

1) In this regulation, a registered person shall mean a competent person holding a valid certificate of registration issued in terms of subregulation 4.

2) An application for registration as a registered person shall be made to the chief inspector in the prescribed form together with the prescribed registration fee.

3) Any natural person who satisfies the chief inspector that he or she

a) has sufficient knowledge of the scope of services listed in Annexure 4;

b) has sufficient knowledge of the Act and these regulations; and

c) has at least 1 year full time practical construction health & safety experience, shall be registered as a Construction Health & Safety Officer as contemplated in Regulation 8.

4) The chief inspector shall furnish a registered person with the appropriate certificate of registration and enter such registration into the national database.

5) The chief inspector may at any time withdraw any certificate of registration, subject to section 35 of the Act.

6) A registered person shall on request produce his or her certificate of registration to an inspector, an approved inspection authority for Construction Health & Safety, a client, client agent or a contractor.

7) A registered person shall inform the chief inspector of any changes affecting his or her registration within 14 days after such change.

CASH COW?

The proposal intends to remove the costly SACPCMP registration and their requirements for Continuous Professional Development, which has been seen to be a money making racket, as no professional body are allowed to train practitioners in their field of expertise. This means that the SACPCMP has to appoint accredited training providers who has the "exclusive legal right" to train practitioners. Practitioners are required to maintain their professional development (CPD) at an average of 10 points per annum, which is roughly costed at R1200 per point. At a recent CHS Conference in October 2014, which sold at R7 200 per entry, registered practitioners who attended were awarded two points, which equates to R3600 per CPD point, excluding travel and accommodation.

Employed Certificated H&S Officers earn on average R23 000 per month, according to the SAIOSH salary survey, although recruitment agencies sets this far lower at R14 500 per month. Maintaing CPD will add an annual business expense of around R20 000 on top of the Cost to company remuneration. For this same amount, practitioners can enrol in a B.Tech degree over a period of three years and earn at least R35 000 per month based on the SAIOSH survey of Graduates.

No Public Participation

Concerns have been raised about the process that was followed, and practitioners deny their involvement in the initial participation process. It was also a huge surprise to learn that the SACPCMP was the approved body for registration as the initial draft regulations mentioned a professional body accredited by SANAS.

It was during the initial draft stages that the infamous SA Institute of Safety Management, one of the stakeholders in the development of the draft regulations, applied for SANAS accreditation, hoping the regulations will give them the legal right to charge membership fees. It was also during this period that a group of IOSM members separated and formed IOSH SA, with the initial idea to become an affiliate body of IOSH UK. Despite convincing SAQA and practitioners of this affiliation, it turned out a 10 months after their recognition with SAQA, that the deal is off and IOSH UK is no longer part of the plan.

The DOL and Department of Public Works(DPW), however had the same idea, and changed the regulations to appoint the SACPCMP, a sub-council of the defunct Council for the Built Environment established by the DPW. In recent developments the DPW is now considering scrapping the CBE, for failing to adhere to transparent financial practices and driving transformation in the Built Environment.

Have your say

NIOCCSA has once again invited OHS Practitioners to share their views and opinions on forced professional registration and CPD requirements and practitioners are invited to leave their comments on the matter on the NIOCCSA Website.

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