SA construction safety permits law snagged
An SA construction permit system is already partly legislated in requirements for construction work and certain building risk management procedures to be recorded and logged with authorities.
A much contested set of Construction Regulations amendments is due for promulgation in the second half of 2012. It remains uncertain whether some form of ‘professional registration’ would be required of construction safety practitioners, and whether onerous provisions for keeping safety files for the convenience of inspectors, would be included.
As reported two years ago, some construction contractors and some Master Builders members had raised concerns with SA DOL officials, in a public forum during a Dekra hosted health and safety conference at Sun City, that the planned construction safety permit system would be impractical due to the sheer number and frequency of construction projects, as well as the limited number of labour officials that could assess and respond to permit applications.
The planned system would delay some building projects, and cause most construction work to be technically illegal.
As reported during last year, specific comments from Sheqafrica.com and a number of visitors are among the many comments made to the draft amendments, that a senior health and safety lawyer had termed ‘contradictory’.
Master Builders get permit system update
Master Builders South Africa and Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal report on their website that they had requested a meeting with the SA Department of Labour to discuss the matter of permitting.
SA DOL responded to MBSA: “State Of Affairs: Construction Regulations. Mr [Phumi] Maphaha [DOL construction inspector] mentioned that some of the reasons that were causing delays with regard to the Construction Regulations are that DOL has been receiving more comments about the envisaged permit system.
“He said that the general feeling was that DOL does not have the required capacity at present to administer the permit system.
“The legal department of DOL has also echoed the same sentiments and has urged DOL to build the required administrative capacity and reposition itself to meet the challenges that will be imposed by the permit system.
“The legal department also suggested that there should be a Plan B in place should things not unfold according to plan so as not to disadvantage contractors with delays in issuing permits.
“Numerous enquiries were received on whether or not the permit system will be piloted first, or implemented from the go. These were some of the challenges that DOL faced and had to resolve.
“The Regulations are currently with the Chief Inspector’s office which must address these concerns after which it might be returned to the legal department and the state law advisors.
“The next task of the Technical Committee will be to work on the guidance notes that will be published with the Regulations at the time of promulgation.”
HSE bodies await legislation
DOL construction inspector Phumi Maphaha was last year invited to address the newly formed Saiosh membership body in Durban, where he also explained aspects of the Construction Regulation amendments to health and safety practitioners.
Saiosh president Robin Jones, in answer to a query on their response to the amendments process, told Sheqafrica.com at a DOL conference and expo in early 2012 that the body was focussed on raising compliance levels, not on influencing the legislative process.
Top level DOL officials said at the major DOL conference in Boksburg in early 2012, that the amendments would be promulgated in 2012. Labour minister Mildred Oliphant did not attend the conference, and did not respond to a request for an interview to clarify policy issues on registration, consultation and the legislative process itself.
More public comment
The legislative amendment had already undergone a public comment phase, after an initial attempt to bypass public comment, as reported on Sheqafrica.com last year.
The DOL Advisory Council on Occupational Health and Safety, ACOHS, which is responsible for the draft, includes two Master Builders SA officials.
The body also includes three or more members who want legal enforcement of ‘professional registration’ of general health and safety practitioners, while opponents believe that professionalisation would be premature, since current membership bodies lack capacity to represent, develop, assess, register and discipline sheq practitioners.
DOL comment about “receiving more comments” raises the spectre of limited and selective consultation by DOL, instead of a second round of public comment that could be warranted by the alrge volume of initial comments, and the probability of a near total redraft of the controversial Construction Regulations amendment.
PHOTO; SA DOL construction inspector Phumi Maphaha explained to Master Builders SA that the department is trying to find solutions to its lack of capacity to implement a construction safety permit system, as provided for in a Construction Regulations amendment draft text.
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