Consulting body NIOCCSA is forming the Advisory Board for Occupational Health and Safety (ABOSH) to promote health and safety education and development.
“We have studied a number of professions and practices since 2004 and have come to the conclusion that Southern African OHS practice does not measure up to international practice,” announced the National Institute for Organisational Compliance Consultants of Southern Africa (NIOCCSA) executive member Rudy Maritz in July 2014.
[[UPDATE 4 AUGUST; Rudy Maritz reported; “We have received a total of 18 nominations thus far, not all are high level as we hoped. We will keep it open up to end September.
I highlighted this need in the Mining versus Construction dilemma. We need a central port of call to promote OHS in industry, and not allow industry to promote OHS, or we would have a replay of the Construction Regulations issues when the OHS Act is redrafted.]]
“The new board will respond to deficient training requirements and standards for gauging health and safety performance in the workplace. Too much importance is placed on external audits and Labour inspections in data and perceptions of compliance, while training and research are disregarded as we move towards professionalism.
“We do not have sufficient leadership in occupational health and safety research and development for various reasons, such as funding, cultural and historic elements,” said Maritz.
“ABOSH will focus on resolving restrictions facing OHS practitioners from entry level to mid-career. We are inviting specialists from all the various fields in the OHS group of professions.”
NIOCCSA questions and answers
Maritz responded to questions raised in response to the announcement.
Q; Is NIOCCSA copying SAIOSH and IOSM by setting up another board within a body?
A; No. ABOSH does not test or certify competence, nor contract to NIOCCSA, nor collect fees. It will be the first independent body of professionals with vast experience in all aspects of OHS, to advise authorities, service providers and employers on research, curriculum standards, CPD requirements and best practice.
Q; Are ABOSH members appointed or elected?
A; Board members will include professionals in various OHS disciplines, such as doctors, nurses, engineers, hygienists, psychologists, toxicologists, behaviour and safety professionals. It is open to members of any professional association. NIOCCSA management members may not be nominated to ensure and maintain independence. Practitioners will have representation and avenues of input regardless of membership.
Q; Is ABOSH a duplicate of ACOSH?
A; No, the board will not directly advise the Minister of Labour. It will engage practitioners, educational institutions, employers, the SACPCMP registrar, and industry-specific bodies such as Achasm, SIMRAC, CAIA and others.
Q; How would interested parties participate in ABOSH?
A; Anyone can nominate a board member. We correspond with nominees, and allow comments or objections. People can also nominate themselves.
Q; Is NIOCCSA a rubber-stamp of professional bodies?
A; All professional associations are rubber-stamps to some extent in that they verify education, training, experience and service records, against a set of criteria. NIOCCSA is also an advisor to, and advocate for consultants. Our recent agreement with the PECB is proof of our commitment to bring benefit to OHS practitioners.
Q; Is NIOCCSA membership still free?
A; Yes, but only to the end of July. From 1 August 2014, new members will pay to join.
Q; How would you fund ABOSH functions?
A; ABOSH members are not paid. Funding would be needed for research and development and we will cross that bridge as the need for research projects are identified.
Q; What is the Consultants Advisory?
A; The Consultants Advisory (CA) is a publication used by NIOCCSA members, like a credit risk report used by banks for granting loans. The CA highlights risks associated with doing business with certain clients, based on payment records and outstanding claims. The CA also lists details and complaints against consultants and client Agents. For example, an unqualified Client Safety officer rejected an EME contractor’s health and safety file four times, after it was vetted as acceptable by five external consultants. Thus the CA also exposes victimisation.
Q; Would the CA list corruption and bribery?
A; The SA National Treasury Department issues documents on such criminal offences. Court records, sentences and news are in the public domain. NIOCCSA responds to track records with blacklisting from membership.
Q; How many members have NIOCCSA already black-listed?
A; None, but we have numerous complaints lodged against members and non-members. We have a dual listing scheme; a red list for members under investigation and monitoring, and a black list for deregistered members. We report red-listing to the Department of Labour.
Q; Who are your members?
A; We serve consultants. OHS practitioners make up 25% of our membership. Other professions are keen to support us, but the OSH fraternity seems to be reluctant to join any professional association, particularly where ethical business is verified. We require ITC and fraud clearances of Accredited professionals, and this seems to scare off some consultants. Our Accredited members are beyond reproach.
Q; Do you test competency like IOSM?
A; Not as a rule. Some certification bodies, such as the HRCI, require competency testing for international recognition, but international recognition is optional. We do not re-test them. Competency testing for re-certification is an international practice. SA still lags behind in that regard in OHS practice.
Q; What is your planned online exam for?
A; We will set online exams to gain continued professional development (CPD). Instead of tea-and-scone workshops, we opted for real learning, involving online assessments in a three-year certification cycle. Members are notified when due for advancement, and select the CPD level exam they wish to take for CPD credits.