SACPCMP clarifies construction health and safety liability

SACPCMP head of Stakeholder Relations, Yuven Gounden.
SACPCMP head of Stakeholder Relations, Yuven Gounden.

SACPCMP head of Stakeholder Relations, Yuven Gounden.

The SACPCMP, registrar for project managers and construction health and safety professionals, clarified construction health and safety liability.

Head of Stakeholder Relations at the South African Council for Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP), Yuven Gounden, responded on questions about construction health and safety liability, OHS professionalisation, and its new transformation committee, to editor Sheqafrica.

Q: What is the SACPCMP strategy for protecting CHS professionals against liability and/or responsibility, for CHS tasks that should be discharged by engineers, managers, and project managers, and for the effects of loss incidents?

A: Liability insurance cover is in existence, and being developed by several service providers, specifically directed at the health and safety industry.

The SACPCMP takes cognisance and supports these initiatives, but it is regarded as an individual’s concern, with specific requirements to be addressed by those service providers operating in the market.

Liability cover specifically applies at Professional CHS Agent (PrCHSA) level, where accountability is much more prominent, due to the specific professional status of the registration and appointment.

Liability cover may however also be applied at CHS Manager and CHS Officer level, especially to consultants, and where services are rendered in a personal capacity.

It is currently expected that H&S employees are covered by the employer’s or contractor’s liability insurance. This should also apply to employees of a construction health and safety consultant.

Liability is also subject to specific products or services. One can expect that these will be developed to specific conditions by service providers.

Q: The SACPCMP noted among its goals to increase the use of registered construction health and safety professionals. How would this be achieved?

A: Industry players and potential new entrants were exposed at the SACPCMP conference, to massive opportunities in state infrastructure development expected over the next five to fifteen years. These projects will contribute to development and transformation of the built environment.

There will also be short and medium term infrastructure developments by the private sector. We have to facilitate information sharing, capacity building, knowledge and skills transfer in the sector.

The conference contributed to improvement of standards, and benefits to registered persons. It was a platform for government to engage industry on key infrastructure projects and PPPs in the SADC region of Africa, and the continent.

It was also a platform for construction stakeholders to discuss ways and means to roll out a seamless mentorship programme in support of new entrants in the industry.

Q: The SACPCMP noted the goal of transformation; how would this be achieved in the context of construction health and safety?

A: A Transformation Committee has been established to examine all aspects of transforming the built environment, one of them being health and safety. The committee will:

  • Determine a transformation framework
  • Determine transformation imperatives in areas outside the SACPCMP mandate, but within its operational and functional influence
  • Ensure that transformation permeates the SACPCMP strategy
  • Set transformation milestones and measurements across all spheres, structures and programmes of the SACPCMP
  • Determine remedies for areas that lack success with regards to transformation and monitor implementation thereof
  • Ensure compliance with transformation imperatives in relevant laws and regulations.

Q: What are the current numbers of registered construction health and safety Agents, Managers, and Officers?

A: Registered persons include these designations;

40 Construction HS Agents; and 55 Candidates

243 Construction HS Managers; and 17 Candidates

711 Construction HS Officers; and 288 Candidates.

Q: What is the SACPCMP strategy for raising the general construction practice of employing, and registering people with a few one-week courses? Is the CPD model sufficient for raising CHS skills?

A: Short courses are paramount to the development of critical skills in the industry, but preferred to support a formal qualification in health and safety management.

SAQA /SETA accreditation of numerous health and safety short courses remains a challenge. Standardisation and alignment with the scope of services on the different levels of CHS practise, must now be addressed.

The CPD model is sufficient for raising CHS skills, but must be developed, especially on CHS Officer level, to improve access, and to provide in the requirements of the construction industry. The involvement of training institution is of critical importance.

Q: Are engineers who practice as de facto CHS Agents, required to register with the SACPCMP, in addition to ECSA or SAFCEC?

A: In terms of Construction Regulations 2014, 5(6) and 8(6), it is compulsory to be registered with the statutory body appointed by the Chief Inspector of Labour. The SACPCMP is the only body appointed to register construction health and safety professionals. Dual registration is allowed.

Q: From your assessment of CHS training providers, is there any tertiary OHS alternative to the Unisa Nadsam /BCom with OHS; or the NMMU degree in construction management with OHS modules?

A: Alternatives to the existing tertiary qualifications are very limited, although several tertiary institutions have shown increased interest to expand CHS modules in their built environment courses; as well as health and safety tertiary qualifications being developed.

The picture on post-graduate level has however shown considerable improvement. Several universities are involved in such programmes.

  • Sources: SACPCMP head of Stakeholder Relations, Yuven Gounden, in response to questions on health and safety liability from editor Sheqafrica, after the SACPCMP conference in October 2016 in Sandton.
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5 Comments on "SACPCMP clarifies construction health and safety liability"

  1. We as safety professionals in Transnet did our applications and paid our fees in 2014, but till this date nobody is registered yet. What is the problem.

    ==== Former editor responds; Are you construction health and safety practitioners? If not, you are not expected to register. If you then want to do so voluntarily, your qualifications and experience may not be relevant to the designations that the SACPCMP sell, and thus your applications may probably be relegated to a lower status, or Candidate status. And the CPD that they sell would then also not be relevant to you.
    If you do work in construction health and safety, you may want to consider investing in further training, instead of registration. If you work as construction health and safety Agents, and you have relevant training and experience, you could challenge the SACPCMP legally on the basis of administrative unfairness, and potential barriers to earning an income in the construction market.

    • How does one go about challenging SACPCMP legally?

      ==== Former editor responds; There is an appeal process, which some applicants have taken.
      There is also a constitutional civil case option, which some practitioners have taken.
      There is also the option to practice based on your qualifications and experience, and challenge any employer who overlooks you, or any inspector who asks your KFC ticket.
      There is also the option to concentrate on your qualifications and experience and CV, while the house of cards of the uncles and aunties in the OHS registration bodies business slowly collapse.
      See the report on on what Labour Chief Inspector Tibor Szana said in Benoni in November, about the “sore point” of construction health and safety registration, and about expected changes in the Construction Regulations.
      He noted that Labour inspectors on construction sites are not registered with the SACPCMP, but have a three or four year qualification.

  2. Safety Steve | 10 November 2016 at 12:27 |

    How are 40 CHS Agents supposed to handle every construction project in SA????

  3. Also note that, not all of the CHS Agents are practicing independently, restricting them to handling a single organisation’s construction projects. Therefore the number of available CHS Agents is even lower.

    ==== Former editor notes: Does this bring us to the mentoring scenario; a few people signing off on the construction health and safety work of less skilled and quasi-registered people? What are the various implications?

    • The problem lies in the registration of Pr CHS Agent. Once registered they may employ a number of unregistered persons and send them out to conduct the inspections, and just sign off on the audit report.
      Therefore, how does the Client or Contractor actually know if the individual conducting the audit is competent or not?
      Who identifies who the Mentor would be for a particular CCHSA?

      ==== Former editor notes; Competence has many aspects, depending on the risks, equipment, processes, skills in the team, functions allocated in the team, the site, management system, education, training, experience, etc.
      Which is why the law requires competence, not a particular course or registration.
      Addition of registration of construction HS Agents is just one band-aid in the compliance part of the many aspects of management.
      Getting construction HS managers and officers registered, by the ‘three sizes fit all’ model, and filing their tickets, is having more negative than positive consequences.
      Re-examining and registering the CHS Agents, to put their signatures and liability on a dotted line, for responsibilities that CHS managers and officers (and often the CHS Agents too) are not qualified to do (formwork, concrete mixtures, operating procedures, and a hundred other things where we know that owners, contractors, sub-contractors, designers, engineers, supervisors and workers cut corners), changes only the liability picture.
      Employers and engineers are anxious to externalise liability by hiring CHS Agents, to take the fall in court when things go wrong.
      Note the SACPCMP’s “support” (advice) to CHS professionals who are not employees, to buy liability insurance cover. On top of their annual registration and CPD costs.
      Construction employers have caught their OHS people and the legislator (DOL, advised by construction employers, engineers, and general business via BUSA, and the voluntary ‘institutes’ with their own ‘registration’ rackets and ‘CPD’ conferences and conflicted state contracts) in a liability trap, with the false promise of professional status and higher pay.
      There are about 32 problems with the enforcement of CHS registration in South Africa at this stage of educational maturity, vocational training maturity, and tertiary maturity; including problems with the details of the process. Fixing 20 of those problems would take 10 years, and still the wheel would be broken.
      Scrap OHS registration, and fix the other problems instead. -Sheqafrica

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