Beware of mass health and safety registration

The SACPCMP mass construction health and safety registration workshop is a coercion tactic to transfer OHS liability, writes Edmond Furter.

The DOL intends to expand the SACPCMP scheme to other industries, perhaps even by extending the SACPCMP construction management and OHS management mandate outside construction.

Re-assessment of OHS skills and practices in all industries is needed, to avoid the same uncertainty and half-baked ‘solutions’ being sold to other industries.

Some years ago, I was threatened by two IOSM /OHSAP board members, in the presence of three others, that I should support their voluntary registration scheme. If it were enforced by law, I would have to apply to ‘sit’ their exam and interview.

They are now proven literally wrong, but indirectly right, which is worse. If I chose to work in construction, as OHS Officer or OHS Agent (not OHS Manager), on certain projects, and for certain employers, I would have to apply to the SACPCMP for a designation, where IOSM /OHSAP have some friends, contractors, assessors, social partnerships, influence, and alliances, such as via Master Builders, SAIOSH, and the Labour minister’s advisory council.

If I then happen to need some bonus points, I may join one of the voluntary bodies, and their ‘CPD’ events, on top of the SACPCMP and their ‘CPD’ costs that my employer may or may not pretend to contribute to.

Judging by the IOSM motivations, tactics, capacity, and cultic leadership (‘ask Ray’), and by the ethics of the construction industry in opting to shift OHS liability to employees (particularly OHS Officers), I am fortunate that I do not work in the construction industry.

This Trojan horse has wheels
Let other industries beware of the construction-based volunteer board members (such as former IOSM president, and current SAIOSH ‘registrar’ Neels Nortje), Master Builders officials (such as Neels Nortje), and Labour minister’s advisory council members (such as Neels Nortje), who use their quasi-legal ‘recognition’ to expand the registration-for-liability scheme.

The construction industry’s promises of ‘raising and ensuring health and safety skills’ are built on sand, and hide their liability-shifting agenda. Their organisations peddle influence, intimidation, collusion, and price-fixing.

They do not represent the ethics, nor the majority of health and safety practitioners. Nothing in construction health and safety law, organisation, or prosecution is black and white. Everything is a shade of gray, just as intimidators and influence peddlers like it best.

As the Trojans have learned to their cost, rather leave massive gift horses on the beach.

The diversion tactic of Master Builders official Neels Nortje in accusing opponents of the construction health and safety registration scheme of discriminating against people with SACPCMP designations, is a weird kind of reverse psychology.

Employers should check on the training qualifications and experience of all applicants, and ignore the presence or absence of SACPCMP registration. It says nothing for or against anyone’s skills.

Reserve your suspicion for Master Builders, ACOHS, SACPCMP, IOSM, OHSAP, SAIOSH and IOSH SA board members, assessors, employees, and contractors. They are all in a Trojan horse named ‘Construction health and safety registration and liability scam’.

• Edmond Furter is the editor of Sheqafrica.com.

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Edmond Furter

Editor at Sheqafrica.com
Edmond Furter is the editor of Sheqafrica.com. 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.

8 thoughts on “Beware of mass health and safety registration

  1. As a Occupational Health and Safety Practitioner i would like to add to the SACPCMP saga.
    Why do buildings collapse (Tongaat Mall) (Meyersdal) as example? Did it happen because of the lack of a H/S person on site. NO.
    Did it happen because the builder / owner took shortcuts.YES.
    Did it happen because of inferior concrete mixes, not enough reinforcing etc.? YES.
    Did it happen because of cost savings? POSSIBLE YES.
    Did it happen due to untrained / unqualifeid / upcomming entreperneursSMMEs? YES.
    Contractors completely ignoring H/S on site? YES.
    Top Management not willing to embrace H/S? YES
    Will registration to SACPCMP stop the above? A BIG NO.

    The above statements are made as per my own experience on a variety of sites and different industries, including: Ceramic / Rooftile / Molten Metal / Brick / Chemical manufacturing and Construction Industry.

    Work done as Occupational Health and Safety Practitioner in the above industries as well as being Cient Agent for: Department of Public Works / Varoius Municipalities / Various Conslting Engineers and Private cotractors.

    Am I going to register with the “Governing Body”SACPCMP? NO!

  2. Well gentlemen, I will state that I am registered with the SACPCMP – however I have not been assessed yet. So I am an in-betweener, or ‘uit-lander’, should this be held against me for my opinion that registration is required? My only concern really revolves around persons who claim they are competent for building bridges with health and safety, for example, when they are not.
    There should be a Code of Ethics and a strong disciplinary system in place to combat this, it is most important. For example I am a CMIOSH UK, Registered OSHCR consultant with the UK Government, but I do not have experience in tunnelling. I apply for the job and get it, merely because I am registered. This is the area on most concern for me. I have personally experienced this in the oil and gas industry; ‘he has a NEBOSH IGC, so he can do refinery H&S’. Bollocks.
    So yes, registration under the correct circumstances, clearly detailing areas of practice should possibly be looked at. As for assessing, who, there will always be a debate, or should the panel be made up of “experts in that particular type of construction safety”? -Shane

    ==== Editor notes; Codes of ethics backed by disciplinary procedures, such as investigating, scrapping from the roll, fining, re-training, and warning the public, is one of the ‘big five’ promises that self-regulation institutions make. In practice it tuns out to be more political and sensitive, and some work for the lawyers, in other words, one of the five big lies.
    Count the doctors, lawyers, engineers, master builders, environmental assessment practitioners, health care waste disposers, financial advisors and other registered people who were disciplined?
    About specilisation, that is what training and HR checks are for. The general practice of checking only for a piece of paper, reveals that employers only want to pass the compliance buck. Three sizes of registration fit all.
    About the ‘correct circumstances’, perhaps in the UK, where the legal environment, the training, procedures, numbers, and about thirty other things are different. Overwriting IOSH to SAIOSH is a recipe for failure. -Edmond Furter

  3. Hi

    Just reading the March Issue of SHP, UK Safety Magazine. A Health and Safety Officer has just be found guilty on a construction site that resulted in a fatality for:
    1. The method statement he HELPED to Prepare was inadequate
    2. Site inspections were inadequate – method statement not followed
    3. He failed to question the temporary works e.g. propping, shoring of an excavation
    4. Despite having the authority to stop the work, he failed to do so

    He was imprisoned for 9 months and the project manager was found guilty of manslaughter – Crown Court December 2014.

    Personal Indemnity for those Health and Safety Officers in the future in South Africa. Will it hold, or shall we just carry on……

    Shane

    1. The South African enforcement and legal system can’t even cope with the murderers and other evil doers. How are they going to even begin to catch all the health and safety law breakers?

      Life is cheap in Africa – the politicians just pay it lip service to win votes to stay in power so they can live it up at the taxpayers expense.

      Registration of health and safety people is a pipe dream in South Africa. The process is flawed.

      Why? Because the level and availability of qualifications is fundamentally flawed.

      I’ll also hazard a guess that all these guys involved with membership schemes (aside from a few) have their own commercial interests at heart, even if it just means raising their profile so they can then go out and win work by quoting their connections, name dropping and whatever else.

      I think the biggest scandal is not the registration fees, but the CPD requirements and the cost associated with that. Oh, well, if you can think up a fancy acronym and add words to the letters, its easy to dream a scheme, the new South African Health & Safety enterprise. I’ve just come up with a new slogan –

      Dream a scheme schemers – making the members kak and betaal,.

  4. We as health and safety proffesionals cannot be held liable for incidents because we are operating in a support structure to protect our employers and employees. My main concern in this chain of command when it comes to safety, line management from the contract managers to the supervisor don’t want to take responsibility, although the Act is clear that the supervisor is responsible for all employees under his/her control, even visitors on site. Yet they want to put the blame onto a health and safety person who is not on site as regularly as the supervisor, and is not in managerial control of anybody on site.

    1. Yip, this is the traditional approach to HSE. Fundamentally we are advisors to the line. What is however different is the Construction Regulations, especially the Agent of the Client if so appointed.
      The H&S Manager and the H&S Practitioners will still be advisors to the line. However, this does change for the AGENT, he /she will have certain accountabilities as agreed by the contract between the two parties.
      I have today started to list these requirements, place in context and will eventually go to a lawyer to set up a minimum standard for myself. Professional Indemnity is a no brainer. So, I would at this stage prefer to be the Manager. The cost escalation in relation to what the deliverables may be could / would be very costly.

      The minimum specifications are important to note. For example there are many different risk assessments; safety, occupational health, psychosocial, ergonomics, contaminant air dispersion, constructability review, occupational hygiene, etc.
      The client may only want 2 of the many. Does the Agent then by contract only look at the two chosen, and contract out of the rest, although the others may be of higher risk? It does become problematic; ‘Note that I have only chosen one area to look at, in a typical construction project.’
      Regards, Shane

  5. As you know, I have been very outspoken about the registration of officers and managers, much to some people’s annoyance. But to take point 3 above in Shane’s response regarding the UK safety officer, I know of a similar situation in SA. Not a prosecution, but a temporary support structure that was designed by a structural engineer whilst a building was repaired. The Client’s safety officer stopped the job because there was no “safe to use” card issued by a competent scaffold erector.(with a two day course) The client, simply stopped the work as it was a “safety issue”. I say no, it was an incompetence issue. The safety officer has no business interfering with a design approved by a structural engineer. And applying “access” rules to a support structure goes a long way justifying the stoppage. There are countless examples where safety officers, not knowing what is applicable and what not, cause delays.
    If registration will stop this, I am all for it, but my first question is this:
    Why is a client allowed to appoint a safety officer? All “clients” must have agent level people either contracted or full time employed. And clients like these are plenty. There are Eskom, Telkom and ACSA to name only a few state owned enterprises falling into this group. How will this change? Via exemption?
    I agree that Agents should be regulated and controlled (contrary to popular belief), but when the client has internal safety officers? What benefit is there to H&S or the project to register them? Would you raise a complaint with the SACPCMP because your client appointed a CHSO instead of a CHSA? Surely it will be a financial decision you will regret. The imbalances of this system is yet to reveal itself.
    And let me not get started with Design Risk Management and Occupational Health. The state of knowledge at client level are scary at best. Show the Scope of Services of the CHSA to an engineer, who is in overall charge of a project and ask his/her opinion.
    You will most likely get a response like “Where are we supposed to get these people?”
    Well, the answer is not as simple. You may have another 5 years before you will get these people “off the shelve”, but for now, let’s hope you do not need them.
    That brings me to the Code of Conduct (Not ethics)…
    The Code of Conduct prohibits a person to take on an assignment for which he/she does not have the competencies. Any violation of this code could result in sanction by the SACPCMP. Now do you think a CHSO working for eskom, telkom or any other “kom” like gandakom, klagekom and woudakom, will go to the employer and admit not having the competencies? I hope so, because if not and someone dies on your watch?
    The point is, and we have to be realistic about this…registration will not flick a switch come August 2015. At best, it will kick start a 10 year process whereby the skills and qualifications of registered persons are improved. CPD? Not quite!
    CPD proves a few things. It proves you were actually practising (You were at work), it proves you studied further and it proves you attended some non-core activities, like watching a video or 8 and answer a few questions thereafter. CPD is thus a combination of all of the above, and contrary to what I also thought, it is really quite easy to reach your annual target in less than a day. the SACPMCP is very generous by giving two points for each hour you CPD yourself. The M word comes to mind.
    Now, ladies and gentlemens, let me tell you that this registration is nothing more than a warm fuzzy feeling the HR manager and CEO will experience knowing they “comply” with the law. For the poor registered CHSO, hell awaits to release the fury of a thousand evil spirits to haunt you for the rest of your career as an ex-safety officer trying to sell cars at the local scrap yard.

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