Safety degree change, and SAQA’s career advice

The Unisa National Diploma in Safety Management (Nadsam, NQF 6, 360 credits), changes in 2017 to a Diploma in Safety Management. HRD1501 replaces SPPPRAC, and HRM1501 replaces PEF131V in the curriculum.

The University of South Africa (Unisa) offers a Diploma in Safety Management (Nadsam), but noted a BTech Safety degree change to BComm already in 2013.

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) has a National Careers Advice Portal (NCAP) on its website to help students and trainees to choose careers, with details of tertiary and professional training required, and information on courses at registered institutions.

SAQA works with the Sector Education and Training Authorities (Setas) to offer information on courses accredited with Setas. SAQA aldso evaluates foreign qualifications for recognition of prior learning (RPL).

[UPDATE 2017: The Council for the Built Environment (CBE) criticised universities for low capacity. Priscilla Mdlalose, acting CEO of the CBE, noted seven “challenges experienced” by construction professions, including:

  • Some universities have a maximum intake of only 35 students, resulting in low through-put rate. The faculty promised to improve future intakes. [This comment is relevant also to the Unisa National Safety Management, or Nadsam Degree and Diploma];
  • CBE had to “heavily subsidise application and registration fees for Construction Health and Safety Managers, and Construction Health and Safety Officers, due to their relatively low earning incomes, according to a salary survey”;
  • Few mentors and institutions are available to construction health and safety candidates.

Ms Nomvula Rakolote, Registrar of the SACPCMP, said some black students were not graduating due to lack of experiential learning.

“There is often a gap between graduation and experience. SACPCMP started a programme with the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Gauteng provincial government, to place students in jobs. Some students also lack business skills.”

The CBE has partnerships with several departments to strengthen its technical capacity, and with Tshwane University of Technology, Mangosuthu University of Technology, Durban University of Technology, and Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein.

Ms Kohler-Barnard (DA) asked for a separate meeting with the Portfolio Committees on Basic Education; Higher Education and Training; and Labour, to look at the issue of [health and safety skills] not feeding into public entities.]

[Back to the 2013 report:]

Health and safety training courses comments

From Wade Frazenburg; I have read about Unisa courses being changed and it has caused some concern. I am passionate about being a safety officer and hopefully a manager one day. Could you briefly provide a layout of the steps I should take, courses you recommend, and ways of breaking into the field?

Editor replies; Since Sheq is multi-disciplinary, and employers are often not specific on qualifications required, the answer to your career path query depends on your industrial sector, country or countries of operation, and intended job functions.

You have to compare courses or programme prices, time, venues, unit standard points, and recognition of prior learning (RPL) values. The formal mentoring capacity of your colleagues and employer will play an increasingly larger role in your formal qualifications, and in your employability.

Draft a career path and ask the SACPCMP (i you are in construction health and safety practice, or project management), or the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA), and several training providers, and major employers, for advice.

Sheq at tertiary level has been at crossroads and in uncertainty for decades. Ideally you should choose your speciality, then train in either a health, or psychology, or environmental, or quality, or law, or management programme. Only low level practitioners should be Sheq generalists.

See a report on Sheq training updates here:

Sheq training update 2016 -2017

How many courses do I need?

From Paul; My client’s son wants to enter health and safety practice, and was advised by a training provider to take seven courses in six months, at R60 000.

They advised these courses; SHE Rep Functions, Intro to safety, Safety management short course, Incident Investigation Level 3, System auditor, ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and OHSAS 18001. Are these the right courses, and if he passes, would he qualify to work for a health en safety consulting company?

‘Ra’ replied via; If a training provider led your friend to believe that he would ‘qualify’ as a safety officer, they are misrepresenting their products, and the profession. The proposed series of courses is not the way to go. There are several options.

Editor responds; No trainee entering health and safety could become a consultant or auditor in six months. Appointment as safety officer would depend on the candidate’s other qualifications, experience in the relevant industrial or business sector, and the employer’s policies and mentoring capacity.

There are many good, accredited basic courses, but first decide on a job sector. If the trainee has an aptitude for mining or sustainability, investigate Wits University programmes, or if law, investigate the University of the Free State, or for law or environmental management, compare the North West University programmes.

If the trainee chooses construction, ask the SACPCMP for their designations and accredited training providers, and Nelson Mandela Metro University entry requirements and programmes.

If the trainee chooses mining, consider the Mining Qualifications Authority entry level courses, and Wits University programmes. If blasting is the career choice, Unisa offers the accepted course in explosives.

If the trainee has a medical aptitude, ask the occupational hygiene body SAIOH, and the occupational medical nursing body SASOM for their designations and recommended training providers.

If auditing is the eventual aim, join one of the quality management bodies and ask their advice. If the trainee does not have a particular industry or role in mind yet, compare the NQF levels and credits of courses on offer.

A portfolio of short courses specific to job functions are valuable additions to any degree or production qualification or experiences, such as hazard identification, risk assessment, health and safety law, system implementation, system standard management, environmental management, quality management, incident investigation, and the rest of the spectrum of Sheq management.

Unfortunately the only diploma level general health and safety qualification is from Unisa, which may become a B Comm with some OHS modules.

In environmental management, North West University in Potchefstroom offers a programme of short courses leading to a degree, or in addition to a degree. Several other universities also offer environmental management courses.

Take every step to ensure that the training provider is registered with the relevant department or Seta. Do not take any courses at unregistered providers.

Conferences, workshops or membership body meetings add very little in terms of training or recognition.

Once you know a particular industry’s processes, technologies and risks intimately, and have a tertiary qualification, and have gained experience in risk management in that industry, then consider an audit qualification, internal consulting, and new research into risk management.

If your research creates demand for your advice, only then consider a career in consulting or training. The above is not the last word in career advice, but an outline of some of the spadework that could lead you to a career path plan.

Here is another report on in-house training management:

Health and safety training best practice

New RC short courses

Three new Responsible Care Awareness courses have been developed for the petrochemicals sector and environmental impacts management practice; Introduction to Responsible Care; Implementing Responsible Care; Verification and Auditing of Responsible Care.

Student bursaries increased

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme managed to allocate all R7.7b of its budget, by way of loans and bursaries during the last year, and aims to increase the loans in 2013, by about another R4b.

The Central Applications Process (linking tertiary institutions and funding applications) should be operative by September. It is considering what it might be able to do to help the “missing middle” of students, whose parents earn above the threshold for funding, but still cannot afford to pay full university fees. It also hopes to extend funding to BTech and other currently unfunded courses.

Here is an earlier report on training funding via tax:

Department of Labour’s UIF funds Seta training

SA Labour repeat training lay-off funding offer

State pays for training union officials

The SA Labour Department congratulated the 2013 class of Workers College Natal who gained diplomas from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in labour studies and labour economics.

This college is partly funded by the Department of Labour, and provides capacity building for union officials of the three federations’ affiliates, including Cosatu, to obtain a national academic qualification.

Labour minister Mildred Oliphant would ask the fiscus in 2013 “to explore whether this concept could be replicated to other provinces. We also continue lending weight to other efforts to build capacity through support of Ditsela, which is training union officials, the funding which has been in place since 1996.

“For the next three years, R30.4-million has been allocated for this purpose.” (See posts on Labour Dearptment budget and loss of training functions on

Maritime safety training

DOL has partnered with the South African Maritime Safety Association to enable them to tap into the labour employment system for cadets. “We have also agreed to work with the Department for Higher Education and Training to have these cadets placed at FET colleges,” said Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant.

“We have also partnered with SETAs to provide training for youth and unemployed people.” However, the Department of Labour had most of its former education functions removed to other departments last year.

==== Previous update on Unisa safety courses, 2012

Last year [2011], Unisa said the diploma course content had not been updated for some years, and would be replaced by a BComm, accounting or business management diploma, containing some safety management modules. However, the decision was reviewed.

The BTech Safety Management degree would be terminated by 2018. Lack of tertiary research and training services had been debated in Sheq practice and industry for some years, characterised by lack of information and consultation from Unisa.

Practitioners and employers are concerned about the loss of these two tertiary safety qualifications, since they are among the most recognised qualifications, along with overseas safety degrees.

SA HSE qualifications survey results

A survey of health, safety and environment (HSE) qualifications by Saiosh, found that a basic two week course, the BTech safety management degree, and the Nadsam diploma, were the only generally recognised SHE qualifications in South Africa, alongside overseas qualifications.

Saiosh education officer Shane Lishman ran surveys in 2011 to enquire into recognised and preferred HSE qualifications in South Africa, asking practitioners which qualifications were regarded as important to have.

The survey addressed four major issues; short courses of two weeks, longer courses of three years or more, international courses, and acceptance of qualifications in South Africa.

Earlier surveys by other health and safety membership bodies and organisations like Safemap, Saacosh, and Sashef, had found that most practitioners had only short course qualifications.

Most short courses, typically of two weeks duration, focus on basic legislation, compliance, HSE management principles, HSE management systems, and a practical case study.

Several courses carry equal SAQA registration, equal NQF points, and equal articulation to further studies. Note that the term ‘certificate’ does not imply academic Certificate level.

The term ‘diploma’ is also applied to some courses that could be completed in 30 days or a year, and is not recognised as a diploma by employers or by universities.

Only very basic safety, hygiene and environment qualification levels are standardised. SAQA registration does not imply standardisation, nor international alignment.

Lishman also found that “South African practitioners believe that the best HSE courses are based in;
• UK 80%
• South Africa 62%
• Australia 57%.”

Here is another report on motivations for employers’ training budget;

Does investment in health and safety training pay?

Need for Safety Management diploma

Renewed discussion about tertiary safety qualifications was sparked at a Sashef conference in November last year, as reported on Comments by some students on Sashef Facebook page are posted below, followed by informal responses and web information from Unisa.

From safety practitioner and Unisa student Olivia de Klerk; “My experience and opinion is that the Unisa diploma course material is not all that relevant to occupational safety practice, but it is the most recognised SA based tertiary qualification, which is sad.

“Where else could I complete a National Diploma in Safety Management. I have only three subjects left at Unisa, but I would like to explore other options. Our Unisa assignment answers are posted before we have to submit it. Our lecturer said the exam was partial open book, but exam guidelines dictate that it is closed, and we got SMS messages changing this very important detail, just days before writing exams.

“I do not really feel like I have achieved much through Unisa. I can only study part time. I contacted Vaal Tech, but have not had a reply yet. Apparently TUT offers it as well, but it is also a mission to get info from them.”

From Unisa studen Hannes Ras; “One of my Unisa subject manuals was last reviewed in 1999.”

From Unisa student Valencia Ravell; “I have three subjects left for a Unisa diploma, and I am in the same boat. Vaal tech offers NDSMN, but I am still trying to find out if I could do it part time.”

From safety practitioner, Josep Manioe Makhuvele; “I have always doubted the value of the National Diploma in Safety Management, NADSAM. How much could one get from an undergraduate programme through correspondence? I coach some guys who are studying for their NADSAM, and they have the same challenge. Vaal Tech offers only evening classes.”

Calls to retain Nadsam and BTech SM

Unisa told some students it was changing the National Diploma in Safety Management. For one year, they will not take registrations, and will then resume registrations.

This does not mean that the course will remain, unless other issues are resolved with other possible courses. BComm Safety Management will not be offered yet.

Students who want to follow their National Diploma in Safety Management with a BTech Safety Management in 2012, may ask the dean at why the course is changed.

This course was included in the 2011 calendar as available until 2017, but Unisa website states “no new registrations will be allowed from 2012 onwards”, and yet also says “Repeaters only until 2018″, on the course web page.

The National Diploma in Safety Management is a prerequisite for the BTech Safety Management course.

Venda University of Technology (VUT) offers a National Diploma in Safety Management, but not a BTech.”

Unisa response

Unisa had referred media queries to an appropriate official in November last year. Unisa safety lecturer Francois van Loggerenberg declined to comment. Thirteen lecturers are said to be involved in presenting various safety modules as part of various qualifications.

Unisa lecturers presenting Operations Safety Management include Prof Louis Kruger, Dr Ria Vosloo, Mr Isaac Mokoele, Frans van Loggerenberg, Preshodan Naidoo, and Ms Zakkiyya Moosa.

Unisa BTech Safety Management (BTSMN) registrations stopped in 2011, and may resume in 2013. Current students and repeaters have until 2014 to complete the degree.

Unisa National Diploma in Safety Management prerequisite is NSC with four 20 credit subjects at rating 3, or Senior Certificate. NDSMN offers NQF Level 6, with 360 credits.

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Edmond Furter

Editor at
Edmond Furter is the editor of He is a freelance technical journalist, and has won six journalism awards. He specialises in industrial, business, and cultural content in web, journal, and book formats.

67 thoughts on “Safety degree change, and SAQA’s career advice

  1. From Saiosh education officer Shane Lishman; Some British health and safety diplomas, like Nebosh, is only a 30 day course.

    This qualification is Level 6 in the UK and entitles ‘dipoloma’ holders to enter MSc Health and Safety studies.

    A Nebosh diploma is possible to complete in 30 days, confirmed by Nebosh and many UK practitioners that i have spoken to.

    In SA one cannot do a Diploma in under three years.

    A kid could leave school, do a 30 day course, receive a Nebosh ‘diploma’ in bealth and safety, and start studies for an MSc degree in health and safety. -Shane Lishman

    1. To the editor, Where did you see that one can complete the NEBOSH I diploma in 30 days? Whick UK practitioners gave you that info, or is this only a journalistic stunt? Unless you have extensive experience or knowledge in the field, there is no way that you could go through all the work and pass all three exams in one month. In addition, you would have to wait for the next module D to complete your practical assignment.
      There is no better qualification in the world, and should one want to go further, such as a masters dgeree through Queensland University, there are 16 tough exams.

      Editor responds; Several Nebosh licencees offer the basic Nebosh qualification in South Africa as a two week course, as advertised during a DOL conference and expo in Boksburg last year. The Nebosh certificate cited in the Saiosh survey, is probably misunderstood by some respondents, and not at South African academic Certificate level.
      I have pointed out several times that some qualifications higher than two weeks, but less than a Diploma in the UK sense of the term, is informally termed a “diploma” in SA.
      The information that such a “diploma” could be crammed into 30 days, was from a senior Australian OHS professional. Due to their higher general level of qualifications, many Aussies could get high recognition of proior learning and gain the qualification you mention, if they moved into construction or oil, where I understand Nebosh qualifications are popular.
      A diploma in the South African sense of the term, is almost equal in time and level to a degree. I acknowledge that Nebosh does offer a diploma in UK terms. I am not aware whether the relevant legislation, standardisation and industrial culture components are adapted to the country of use, a point raised by some writers on this site as crucial to all health and safety qualifications and interventions.
      The new IOSH SA indicated that they would assess the value of overseas qualifications in SA terms.
      There has not been a large uptake of overseas-based diploma courses in SA, so please inform us what recognition or equivalence you get from your qualification in SA.

  2. I have done Samtrac after school, but cannot find a job. Emloyers require a diploma or degree in OHS. With the diploma Safety Management (Nadsam) and BTech SM being phased out, the only diploma one can do is Nebosh. Any other suggestions?

    Editor replies; Nebosh is not a diploma in the South African sense of the term, and not offered at diploma level in SA. It is a one month course. See our detailed report on diploma and degree courses on, and carious comments by readers on the report.

    If financial risk or enterprise risk is part of the job jou are looking for, consider a BComm or MBA with health and safety modules. If legal compliance and legal register is a major part of the job that you want, consider Riskmaq modules. Othwerise, do a diploma course directly relevant to the sector that you want to work in, and favour supliers that include sheq modules, or add a relevant short course to your dipploma.

    Employers should give preference to applicants who offer directly relevlant training with health and safety training relevant to their sector, for example MQA generated qualifications in mining, OHS Act short course in labour intensive sectors or jobs, chemicals handling short course in logistics, and so on. There is a wide variety of sheq courses on offer, and some are directly relevant to certain industries and job levels.

  3. I wish to study to become a saftey practioner I would like to ask what courses will i need to take and where can i take them in correspondence . thanks

  4. Experience in the field is everything. I completed Nadsam 92, some time after I had qualified as an electrician at Olifantsfontein trade test centre, and worked in many industries, and worked for eight years at Nosa as a consultant.
    This experience combined gave me an education in occupational safety, not Nadsam alone However,a qualification gives stature to your chosen career.
    A qualification more relevant than a BComm, as planned by the change at Unisa, should be provided as a basic qualification for health and safety practice.

  5. What a schlep I had to find a SAQA recognised course in SHEQ, not to mention a diploma course!
    I am very well qualified, but not in a technical field, and I need to change that asap, but what a mission.
    It seems like I would have to drive and consult somebody at Nosa, a further waste of my time and money.
    UNISA, sadly, is not up to scratch anymore, and the reasons therefore should be answered at some stage by some responsible person, which I guess would never happen.

    Editor replies; Career planning is not done in a day. However, some calls to employers and HR people, measured against the training time and budget that you are prepared to invest, and a call to any one of the major sheq occupational training providers should narrow down your choice to four or five training courses.
    You should compare training schedules, specialities and advice from Irca, Dekra, Advantage ACT, Saacosh, Nosa, Lexis Nexis, Chamber of Mines Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA), or for construction safety training try Nelson Mandela Metro University (NMMU).

  6. Some sheq practitioners who have a two week course training, get the same salary as practitioner who did a diploma in safety management, which is unfair. I have a Nadsam that I completed in 2006.

  7. A recent phone call to UNISA revealed that they have shelved their plan to discontinue NADSAM and B Tech Safety, and that they are set on developing or updating it in the near future. I am sceptical regarding this, since UNISA to my mind is the epicentre of misinformation at times and one can not believe everything you hear from that quarter. Could someone tell me if this is really so? I would like to enroll for B Tech Safety in 2013.

  8. Reading the reports is an eye openner to me, but I am confused on where to enrol for B Tech Safety or Diploma in Safety Management for 2013.

  9. Occupational health and saftey diploma is no longer offered at UNISA. Oxbrigde Academy offers a 12 month diploma. Is it possible to get a job with a 12 month diploma in South Africa?

    Editor queries: Do they offer an occupational health and safety diploma? Is it registered with a relevant Seta? Is it recognised by the NQF system? Do they employ sheq specialist presenters? Do they follow the recently published OHS Practitioner curriculum standard of the MQA? Or is it just another private business ‘academy’, trading on a name that sounds like a reputable education institution, while having no links to either Oxford or Cambridge? South African industry is not familiar with this organisation

    A reconised one year OHS SA diploma would be a great immprovement on the current practice of appointing pople in sheq jobs based on a two week course, or a UK based one month course that is now offered by several training providers as a two week course. If they follow the MQA general OHS Practitioner curriculum standard, pubished for comment last month (see relevant post on, then the incredible speed of course development could be suspect.

  10. I am completing my ND in Safety Management with Unisa in 2012 (if STATS allows). After making several enquiries into BTech Safety Management with Unisa, I was informed today that I would not be able to register in 2013 as the qualification has been phased out. I was also told to look for alternatives with other universities.

  11. I have recently completed a National Certificate in Safety Management and intends to enroll for the Diploma, now with this thing of phasing out the Safety Diploma and Btech I might have to reconsider as the last thing I want is a useless qualification. You at Unisa has led the Safety fraternity down by not researching and keeping up to date on the evolution of the abovementioned qualifications to still make it current, relevant and competitive for the industry it is meant to serve. Don’t bore us with administrative issues, do your job!

  12. Hi Sean, yes, what a mess. To make it worse it seems to me that a state of babalonian confusion is reigning at that institution. I

  13. Hi Sean, yes, what a mess. To make it worse it seems to me that a state of babalonian confusion is reigning at that institution.

    I and many others trust that they will regain their senses and move forward with the NADSAM/B TECH model.It is beyond mean to pull the plug on a set of qualifications that forms the basis of so many OHS practitioners out there, especially since it has been around for many years.

  14. It is sad to find out that there is no proper stucture in place to help improve and continue the tertiary diploma course in health and safety management. I really wanted to become a health and safety practioner, but now it seems all hope is lost, since almost no-one can give me correct details on how to get a diploma to become a health and safety officer.

  15. VUT stand for vaal university of technology not venda university of technology. There is no Venda university of technology in south africa

  16. Please advise where to enrol for safety management diploma since is no longer available at Unisa or what course to do related to safety management

  17. I am studying for a diploma in safety management at Vaal University of Technology. You can do a diploma at VUT in three years, or part time. Classes are held during the day.

  18. This is quite disturbing. I am bound to finish my diploma in safety management and I was looking forward into enrolling on Btech at Unisa.

    I need guidance as to where to go now for a Degree in Safety Management.


  20. i developed a passion for health and safety about two years back, I went for a Nebosh international general certificate, and currently working as a loss prevention coordinator.
    I struggled to get a job. Employers are looking for 2-5 years experience. I am over eager to work and learn, looking for HS officer job, to work towards HS manager. Any ideas where I could start looking. The internet is full of job vacancies, but it its just not helping if experience is lacking.

  21. I have done MBA, after that I want to do Nadsam, can I do this? What is the procedure of registration?

  22. i am a third year student at Unisa,next year I want to register for BTech Safety Management. Now I am confused about phasing out of their BTech degree.

  23. Yes there are some major changes in education legislation. Irca in partnership with the University of the Free State and Da Vinci Institute had to phase out our diploma, because the law says a diploma must now be 360 credits, in other words take three years.
    Diplomas would now have to become so close to degrees, that diploma learners may as well do degrees instead.
    Hence we offer two degrees, a legal degree with University of the Free State, with 50% legal subjects, and 50% Sheq subjects by way of a Riskmaq short course, or a BComm Business Management degree with the same 50% Sheq short course.

  24. I am doing my second year in Safety Management at Vaal University of Technology. This [Unisa BTech Safety degree termination] is sad for me and most students who wanted to continue their studies after a diploma.
    Now it seems like we will be stuck with the diploma only. To me it seems like Samtrac and Nadsam are the highest qualifications in our country since B-tech is phased out. Tell me if I am wrong.
    Our lecturer gave us a good advice, she said to boost our qualifications or if we are really hungry to further our studies, we should do Project Management or Operational Management.

  25. Changes have been coming for a while but i agree there is a massive need here. At Irca we have two degrees. A course needs to be at least a year long to be known as a qualification.

  26. What are the requirements if I want to do a degree course. Do you personally think that one day we will have a solid qualification in safety?

  27. I want to study occupational health an safety. I live in Mafikeng, they don’t offer short courses here.

  28. I have completed Comsoc 1 and 2 at Chamber of Mines. I would like to further my studies in sheq. Would this combination of qualifications be valueble in the mining industry?

  29. Hmm not sure that is the best advise for somebody considering a qualification. The education landsacape has changed to enable people to achieve qualificatioins and not be left with a collections of certifcates that does not always lead to better practice or even a better posistion.
    We do not need everyone to be a graduate, but those who could, want to, and need to, should get the best qualification possible.

  30. I talked to Frans van Loggerenberg and he confirmed that we can still register for BTech Safety Management in 2013. He told me the UNISA call centers were giving out wrong advice and they did take it up with them.

  31. I feel that Unisa should include intensive accident /incident investigation in the package of subjects. Especially at BTech level.
    I am a safety officer using a short course incident investigation template. If we refer our findings and corrective measures to a police investigator, it is easy to see that what we have recommend is not enough. So I juggest we include the standard used by SAPS.

  32. Where can I study safety management part time? Now I am bound to finish road safety with TUT, the phaseout of this qualification at Unisa is too boring.


    Editor adds; These two courses should not be confused with a Nebosh two week basic course offered by some training providers in South Africa.
    Also, the term ‘diploma’ should not be confused with the South African usage of the term ‘diploma’ as described in local education and training legislation, where it is nearly equal to a degree.

  34. Scrolling down the courses modules on the Unisa website for Nadsam, it says that this course will be phased out and no registrations from 2012 onwards would be taken. But it is not like that any more. Now what’s up? Can I register for 2013 or not?

  35. No one can do a Level 6 (international diploma) qualification in 30 days. I did the British safety diploma in occupational safety and health in not less than three years.
    Level 6 qualifications are more intense programmes and are not easy to achieve. They are rated degree equivalent and one can progress to do a Masters.
    I believe you cannot compare the level 6 to these local programmes, please research more.

  36. It is really sad and discouraging to hear that the same course that I am currently studying is phasing out. A responsible person from Unisa must really clarify this issue.

  37. Is there another correspondence institution that offers a Safety Officer course in Gauteng?

  38. There is a BCom Business Management degree customised for operational Risk Management.

    Editor comments; Several universities offer a BCom with aspects of enterprise risk and operational risk, such as legislation and methods, included in some modules. This is also the alternative that Unisa said it would offer. Academia therefore appears to classify our practice as a managerial science.
    The NMMU, specialising in construction management, also study and teach mangement and health and safety together. The SACPCMP Registrar likewise serves project managers, construction managers and health and safety managers by one adminsitration.

  39. This has left me confused. I am trying to find out about part-time studying for Health and Safety Officers and the more I read the less I know.
    Bottom line; is there any institution other than Unisa that offers this course?

  40. I’m a freelance career coach and like reading about programmes available at universities in South Africa and elsewhere in the world. I visited UNISA website and looked at their National Diploma in Safety Management programme and could not see any notice to say the programme was being phased out.
    I’d like to believe that the programme will be taking in new students in 2013 and beyond until further notice.

    It is a pity that South African universities are out of touch with what the job market needs, and take time, if they do, to respond to such gaps.

    Very few universities have their antennas pulled out to pick uip signals from the job market. I believe that the University of Stellenbosch is such an innovative institution.

  41. I am interested in Unisa safety management 12 months programme, but I want to find out if can just do NOSA SAMTRAC instead?

    Editor replies; The difference between a safety diploma, in the South African definition of the term, compared to one of the many two week courses in the training market, is a very large difference.

    Good safety representatives should complete at least two sheq, or health, safety, legal, enviro, quality, inspection, auditing or incident investigation short courses, plus ongoing external or in-house training and experience in the processes, materials and systems relevant to the industry that they work in.

    Good safety managers should add a diploma or degree, and more years of experience in the above.

    The Unisa safety one year programme could be a certificate level course, that could be a good bridge between short courses and a diploma or degree.

    However, Unisa is bad at marketing, communication, industry consultation, research co-operation, and course material updates.

    Unisa needs competition, and health and safety practitioners need a better choice of certificates, diplomas and degrees.

    Unisa has unique industry support for its explosives qualification, and monopolism could have some advantages to a highly specialised practice in a small market, such as explosives management.

    University of Cape Town offers a safety programme. Wits offers mining, sustainability, energy and inspection-based courses relevant to sheq. University of Free State offers a law-based safety degree. North-West University offers a range of environment-based courses. Some other universities offer management qualifications with some financial risk management and operational risk modules.

    There are 22 universities in South Africa, and to the shame of employers generally, there has never been sufficient budgeting for safety training to make tertiary health and safety qualifications viable. Unisa’s dithering of the last three years could be seen in this context.

    We need two or three centres of excellence in health and safety management research, to avoid the cost of Australian and American degrees. Such courses also lack some relevance to South African legal and cultural peculiarities.

    The Department of Minerals and Energy (DMR) announced late last year that it would launch such a centre in 2013, relevant to mining safety, to pool resources in mining safety research and teaching, including semi-state research institutions such as CSIR, as reported on

    The advantage that South Africa once had in mining research, had been squandered and lost by state and semi-state authorities, such as the SABS, while we retain only limited functions, such as hoist cable testing.

    The Department of Labour has similar plans for an industrial centre of excellence in 2013, including semi-state institutions such as the national health laboratory service, NHLS.

    It is also relevant to your question that a curriculum standard for occupational health and safety practitioner courses was drafted by practitioners, hosted by the MQA, to be registerd on the QCTO, as a vocational qualification.

    Once registered, any registered training providers could develop courses to meet the standard.

    The new course standard’s modules, detail, and unit points (see the full text posted on are at diploma level. This is the level that we aspire to, to beak out of the vicious circle of employers appointing safety people who have only a two week course each, soothing their conscience with the fact that there are very few diploma and degree level people in the market.

    Another risk-raising consequence of this viciuos circle is that the few health and safety diploma and degree people in the market, are so mobile that they use job-hopping to raise their income, at the expence of deepening their skills in the complex risks in any one of the industries that hop to and from. This applies in industry and in mining, as Samancor told last year.

    The general mentality that a two week health and safety course is a kind of qualification, or ticket, or compliance in itself, is wrong.

    This mentality is one of the reasons that South Africa is among the lowest qualified sheq nations, and our industries are among the worst performing in sheq management and sheq culture.

    Most suppliers of short courses have links to tertiary courses, and could advise you on a training parth to support your career path. Thus it should be clear that short courses are only a start, not a destination. -Edmond Furter

  42. I was hopping to apply and register for this Health and Safety management diploma… can i still proceed doing so

  43. I completed a National Diploma in Environmental Health and have seven years experience in Hygiene, two years as lecturer in Administration at an FET College and three years as a Chief Environmental Health Practitioner.
    I want to change my career to OHS. Should I do a general short course, or a combination of three auditing courses, to be employed at a mine or construction company as a start? I can not affort to do both.

    Editor replies; Internal auditing could be a good direction for you, but sepcialise in occupational health, or a BCom diploma or degree, specialising perhaps in law and OH. External auditing services are in good supply, and it would take you some years to compete with external auditors, and more effort to keep your hours and registration valid. Base your choice of corses and choice of employer on the sector whwere you already have most experience.

  44. I”ve applied to a lot of vacancies as safety and env officer in SA,but no luck not even a interview.Want to know if between samtrac and auditing courses offered at Nosa,which one can I do that will atract coponies to employ me.Seems to me samtrac is the starting point bcause almost every co wants you to have it as minimum requirement.Will samtrac and my prevoius experience quarantee me a position as safety or env officer?
    Please advise me accordingly.

  45. Is Nebosh international diploma recognised in SA, since they say it is mostly recognised in Africa and Europe. Can Nosa courses get me a job, since Unisa has phased out its course?

    Editor responds; Nebosh offers a range of qualifications, including a diploma, and some employers recognise them. The term ‘diploma’ means different things in different countries, check on the NQF levels, and check which tertiary institutions recognise which modules and trianing providers.
    Unisa still offers a national diploma in safety, Nadsam. Unisa may be changing its BTech Safety degree to a BComm Safety degree. There are many other registered and accredited training providers and courses. To say that the alternative to Unisa is Nosa, is plain wrong.
    Find out directly from several employers, and from their advertisements, which qualifications they prefer.

  46. where best can somebody enrol for a health and safety programme other than a bunch of unrecognised colleges just up for money.

    Editor comments; Take every step to compare training courses and providers, and ensure that the one you choose is registered with the NQF and Seta, and recognised by the industry that you want to work in. Practice your admin and quality management skills by identifying and contacting the relevant authorities yourself, and inspecting original proof of current registration. Audit and diplomacy are among the many skills required in Sheq.

  47. The new body, IOSH SA, will evaluate the certificate or diploma or degree THAT IS SUBMITTED TO IOSH FROM THE SERVICE PROVIDER. A professional body may consult with universities and provide advice to the curriclum.

    Both the professional bodies have the same role, so acceptance of what types of qualifications would be accepted may differ. IOSH SA and IoSM are in their infancy in this role at this stage. IOSH SA is constantly working towards clearing this matter up. We sent out a notice to HSE training course providers to start the process of registering theire courses with us, including the NQF levels etc.

    Ultimately the professional body would have the role of determining what courses are acceptable at each level, and RPL requirements, and what would constitute part of a qualification, etc.

    Continue your studies and courses. International diplomas and degrees are verified by the department of education and the professional body. -Shane Lishman, IOSH SA Education portfolio (CM IOSH)

  48. Shane, I wish you luck changing this circus into a profession. First it was a 40 year battle of who gets to be the professional body. Now we are heading for a 40 year battle between a 14 day and three year diploma course.

    I also read your research into industrial recognition of Sheq qualifications. Industry will opt for the cheapest labour. Why pay a degreed professional R60 000 to R75 000 per month, if you can get a SAQA Level 5 certificate of “diploma” holder for 10% of that amount? And there is more than enough applicants to pick from at that level.

    Asking for a doctorate in safety in future is also not the answer. Why study for three years for a degree to perhaps get a job, if you can run the same risk in 14 days?

    I’d rather become a medical doctor, there is only one course to do. That’s professional, don’t you think? -Rudi Maritz

    Editor responds; Practitioners with a degree in health and safety are in short supply, and certain to get jobs, they even become job-hoppers.
    People with only 14 days worth of Sheq training are in over-supply, as you wrote. There are many jobs for them, but the offer is sporadic and in often in far flung places.
    You make an interesting comparison to medicine. Medical students have a wide range of subjects and career paths to choose from, but there are few dead ends, no pun intended, since every bit of physiology, psychology, pharmacology, chemistry, neurology, radiology, etc, adds to the skills level of the specialisation in the end.
    Practices and patients look at the doctor’s qualifications on the wall, and the reputation of the practice or hospital, not the incidental registration with the health professions council. The same applies in Sheq.
    The same training scenario applies in safety, health, enviro and quality risk management, with skills such as reporting, meetings management, communication, legislation, assessment, ISO standards, and the whole range. No degree could raise all Sheq skills to tertiarly level. Engineers, for example, find great benefit in Sheq short courses.

  49. Shane, I do not see the reason for IOSH SA to review qualifications that are issued by institutions that are approved by the Department of Higher Education, that is, universities and FET colleges.
    I note that IOSH SA also takes into account recognition of prior leaning. Do you guys have a standard procedure to prevent the subjectivity in this process?
    I also note that you are awarded a CMIOSH rating by IOSH SA. What is your qualification in the field of safety, to receive the highest level of grading?

    1. Dear Presley, I thank Rudy who has answered your question partially. As for my CMIOSH status, it was awarded in the UK. I was a member of IOSH UK, IIRSM and registered with the Environmental Health Registration Board (UK), about two years before this process started.
      My fellow board members can verify that it was I who at a Saiosh meeting advised that we should start affiliation with international bodies. We first started discussions with IIRSM, but they came to nought. Through my collegues in Wales, i was able to set up a meeting in South Africa with IOSH UK executives. That both Robin Jones and I attended.
      The rest is history, and my fellow Saiosh board members took it from theer, and have done a wonderful job.
      Getting back to my registrations, i was also registered as a Professional Industrial Hygienist in South Africa – the highest level at the time, since i no longer practice in that field i deregistered, the same as i derigistered from the then Medical and Dental Council of South Africa as i no longer practice in the field of Environmental health in South Africa, but can practice in the UK.
      I am currenly registered at Nottingham University, top 75 university in the world, rated 6th in the UK, and in my field of study rated about 6th in the world. I already have a Post graduate qualification with them in Workplace Health, I am presently completing my MSc through them in Workplace Health. Remember the highest rated University in South Africa come in at about 900.
      It really means nothing when it comes to being a professional – it is my academic background only. Becoming a CMIOSH, FIIRSM, CIEH, CSP or other requires both the academic entrance PLUS EXPERIENCE. This is the area that is really eveluated when one gets a CMIOSH status. This includes completing 6 modules, and open assessment exam, and a board interview exam.
      Having experience of working in petrochemical, etc, and having worked at Fortune 75 and Fortume 500 companies has certainly helped with my experience. I have also met the criteria to be accepted with the Institute of Directors (UK), you have to prove your experience and the size of buget you have managed, the entry criteria in rand at present exchange rate is R14m.
      So CMIOSH and the equivalent is EARNED.

      To Rudy,I believe that in future you would need to be registered with one of the bodies. HR departments will eventually start advertising for persons with a certain professional level. We will notify their bodies of the professional levels we have, who will make it a standard on there body for giving advice to there memebers of who to employ.

  50. Hi Presley, I see no benefit in registering with any body.
    About your query, IOSH SA /SAIOSH is headed by this team of professionals:
    * Robin Jones has been practicing Occupational Health and Safety for nearly 40 years. He started as a teacher. He is a Retired Chartered Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (MIOSH)
    * Harold Gaze is employed by OCCUTECH as Managing Member, they are an AIA for all aspects of Occupational Hygiene. He is a Certified Occupational Hygienist in SA and UK, and experience includes 20 years of education and training and 35 years of assessing work environments. He is a Chartered Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (CMIOSH)
    * Wally Robins started working in 1965 as an apprentice Mechanical Fitter, he worked in the trade until July 1985. He was seconded to the Safety Risk Management Department with Eskom in that year. He studied further and achieved the National Higher Diploma in Safety Management in 1996. He is a Chartered Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (CMIOSH)
    * Neels Nortje started his working career with ESKOM in 1981 where he qualified as a Draughtsman. He holds a National Diploma in Safety Management and has been practicing Occupational Health and Safety for the past 25 years. He is a Chartered Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (CMIOSH)
    * Colin Hull a retired Chief Fire Officer with 48 years experience in Disaster Management and 37 years experience in petrochemical fire fighting. He holds a Diploma in Personnel and Training Management and has qualified in advanced rescue techniques in South Africa and overseas. He is a Retired Chartered Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (MIOSH)
    * Shane Lishman started his career with Transnet as a Environmental Health Officer, and a Registered Professional Occupational Hygienist, Specialist – International Institute Risk and Safety Management – Recognized Safety Practitioner (SIIRSM RSP), and a Chartered Member of the Institution for Occupational Safety and Health, (CMIOSH). Shane is also registered with the Environmental Health Registration Board in the UK.
    * Siven Naidoo’s career in Health and Safety began in 1997 and currently OHS Manager for a construction company. Siven currently serves on the Master Builders KZN OHS Committee. Over the years he has won numerous safety awards and also served as the Chairperson of the Saiosh KZN branch. He is a Technician Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (TechIOSH).

    I think we need to get a mechanical engineer, doctor, and health practitioner, to guide the HET institutions on Health AND Safety course material.

    An IOSH Survey indicated that 57% of members want a split in specialist fields. I agree. Health OR Safety, or then HPCSA or IoSM. And doesn’t an OSH person need to know the law? There is a difference between Laws and Acts.

    I have opted not to register with anybody unless it is a legal requirement that will impact on my income. Otherwise I truly, madly, deeply, see no benefit.

  51. The editor’s comments are noted. And I was not referring to a doctor’s degree on his wall, but to minimum entry requirements to be registered as a Health Professional, as published by the Health Professions Council of SA.
    These are various, depending on fields of specialisation, but a general practitioner cannot be titled a doctor, with either a Mb ChB, OR a two week “Introduction to the principals of diagnosis of illnesses” training course. But a SHE practitioner can! Marvellous!

  52. Rudy, thanks for your prompt response to my last comment, however I did not question any of the IOSH SA /SAIOS members qualifications or experience in the field of safety, but thank you for the detailed resume of each member.
    I merely wanted to get clarity on the membership criteria, in order for one to achieve CMIOSH status, which was in my original question to Shane Lishman.
    He replied; “This is the area that is really evaluated when one gets a CMIOSH status. This includes completing 6 modules, and open assessment exam, and a board interview exam.”

    Would this also apply to a safety practitioner that has a B Tech in Safety Management and qualified with a NQF level seven? I personally would not want to write any additional exams after being declared competent by an institution approved by the Department of Higher Education.
    I believe membership status should be awarded based on an individual/s qualification from an institution approved by Department of Higher Education and fall in line with our national qualification framework, (NQF).
    Rudy, after reading all the information posted, I will follow suit with your approach.

    1. Leaving an institution of higher education does not mean you are competent at the highest level.
      For example, having a BCompt (Accounting science) does not make you a Chartered Accountant. You have to prove more, through the professional body.
      Having a Mechanical Engineering BSc degree, is the same, to reach the highest level, further requirements are stipulated, to become a Pr. ENg.
      Even a medical doctor does his year after graduating as a MD, as an internship, similar to post graduate requirements, although in his sixth year his title is doctor.
      Just like any other professional body in the world, and in South Africa now, everyone, even if they have a PHd, will require to undergo further evaluation to reach the highest status.

  53. i am enrolled in programme in safety management at Unisa and have a national diploma in environmnental health, what course should I do next, after my certificate in safety management? BTech occupational health and safety, or diploma in safety management? Please help!

  54. I have a BSc in Computer Science, with Computer Science 3, Operations Research 3, Statistics 2, Mathematics 1. I would like to pursue a career in Sheq with an interest in the mining industry. I have a passion for numbers so I’m thinking auditing, testing quality and safety of machinery. Please advise.

  55. I am a South African, I want to enrol with NEBOSH in UK, will I be recognised in RSA as having a diploma, same as the one you get at Unisa?

    Editor responds; IOSH SA accepts the qualifications that IOSH UK accepts. They could assess your qualification in SA terms, but all universities, accredited training providers, and SAQA’s National Learner Database, offer assessment and RPL, all at a small fee. Your employer is the most important assessor. Of course, UK legal courses or modules are less relevant in SA.

  56. I do not claim to be a master or professional in safety, but I am completing my B Tech in Safety Management through Unisa and have over ten years experience in the field.
    I studied through Unisa and received my National Diploma and must admit is it very tohrough and requires effort and persistence. I cannot understand why people choose international universities when we have our own universities in South Africa.
    It might not be the best in the world or most favourable, however we have quite a few professionals that came from Unisa. My advice will be to go through [with] the qualification at Unisa, considering it is the most recognised qualification in SA and sought after by the majority of the bigger corporates, for example, the Safety Manager at Engen has a B Tech Safety Mng.
    Otherwise you will be trying to defend your competence using international status and years of experience that cannot be verified.

  57. I must agree. I too got my first qualification in SA. I have worked with others internationally and I have found many “well qualified pretenders” there.

    One of the very best is the Safety Manager at Engen, whom I have worked with, and with whom I would trust my life.


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