Transparent USA labour law review in 2015

The 'safety file syndrome' is not the letter or the spirit of the law, but the DOL has yet to improve the 'tickbox' approach that business and enforcement take.

The Department of Labour has called for public comments on labour law review of ineffective, insufficient, and burdensome law in 2015. The USA DOL, that is.

“The [USA] Department of Labour is looking for new ideas from the public on which rules should be modified, streamlined, expanded or repealed. Commenters have until February 25, 2015 to give input that will help the DOL implement effective regulations.

“The [USA] DOL wants to know:
• Which of the Department’s regulations, guidance, or interpretations should be considered for review, expansion or modification?
• What regulations and reporting requirements should be reviewed due to conflicts, inconsistencies, or duplication among our own agencies or with other federal agencies?
• What reporting requirements and information collections can be streamlined or reduced in frequency while achieving the same level of protections for workers, job-seekers, and retirees? Are there less costly methods, advances in technology, or innovative techniques that can be leveraged toward these purposes?
• What regulatory reforms may require short-term cost increases to the regulated entities while creating longer-term savings, for example, through the adoption of new technologies? What information, data, or technical assistance do regulated entities need in order to better assess these opportunities?
• How should the Department capture changes in firm and market behavior in response to a regulation?
• What data or other indicators suggest that the estimated costs and benefits of an existing regulation should be reviewed?
• What other strategies exist for increasing the flexibility of regulations without limiting important protections? What information, data, or other technical assistance do stakeholders require in order to better assess the long-term impact of these reforms upon such protections?

Bumpy SA labour law review

The South African Department of Labour is currently reviewing the Occupational Health and Safety Act itself, and some of its regulations, such as Major Hazard Installations, but has not called for public comment on the OHS Act yet, reports Sheqafrica.

The SA DOL had acknowledged several times in the last decade that some elements of labour law, or business and enforcement practices based on perceptions of the law and regulations, are ineffective in raising workplace health and safety.

Among these problematic areas are certain procedural applications; permits; safety files; letters of good standing; appointments; and since last year, elaborate construction health and safety registration requirements involving some employers, some projects, and some categories of practitioners, but ironically not Construction OHS Managers.

Registration of some construction health and safety practitioners, due to the Construction Regulations Amendment, involves engineers as C-OHS Agents with the SACPCMP, which the DOL had appointed as registrar and as continued professional development (CPD) agency.

However the SACPCMP appointed a contractor to offer CPD. The Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) said it would leave health and safety continued professional development (CPD) to voluntary associations such as Achasm.

The DOL had linked design, engineering, scaffolding and concrete issues related to periodic slab collapses, to health and safety skills and registration, inviting criticism that the two functions are separate in law, in training, in appointments, and in practice.

Some professions support the recent and current labour law reform, while others say they were not consulted, and that the unfolding implications of some regulations have undesirable effects on business, on jobs, on labour, and on health and safety risk.

The kind of open and accessible business and public consulting of the USA DOL, seems some way off in South Africa.

• Sources; ISHN USA. Sheqafrica.com.
* See a post on DOL February and March 2015 roadshow meetings to explain recently amended labour law to affected parties.

* On an earlier post about the ‘safety file syndrome’, ‘Safety Koos’ commented; “Where is the research the DOL carried be introducing these bastardised Construction Regulations? I think back in 2000 they had some oke who was taught how to copy and paste, and this moegoe then cherry picked… the parts they thought would work for construction health and safety.

“Ok, so here in the UK, before new regulations are introduced there are research and studies commissioned by the HSE plus public consultantions over a period of years to inform them on the approach to be taken – in addition there are EU laws and directives that are implemented, but each member country adapts these to local conditions.

“In the UK, a Health & Safety File is a building manual. To manage the Construction phase, there is document called the Construction Phase Plan – and this is a site specific management system for health and safety – this document dovetails with organisations over arching health and safety management system which many organisations align to recognised standards such as OHSAS 18001. The Principal Contractor is responsible for producing and implementing the Construction Phase Plan – sub-contractors either part of the Principal Contractor’s supply chain or directly appointed by the client who work on the site must do so in accordance with rules and requirements laid out in the Construction Phase Plan – heard that expression “no boots, no hard hat, no work”.

“The Principal Contractor will require a method statement and risk assessment usually as minimum from each contractor in addition to implementing permit to work systems and other safe systems of work to control contractor activities. Some large projects will even have package works plans similar to the Construction Phase Plan although this is not a legal requirement. It sounds to me like the Safety File Syndrome prevelant in South Africa also doubles up as a very inefficient way of trying to substantiate a contractor’s competence and their ability to managed their health and safety responsibilities. Why on god’s earth would you choose to verify a organisations competence after you have appointed them? What’s that going to do? Then people stop work on site until they can get their act together.

“Do you know why there is this endless debate about the technicalities of this construction regulation and that one? DOL produced a … set of regulations and they had no idea what they were trying to achieve.

Send a delegations of regulators to work in the UK for a while… trust me, their eyes will be opened…”

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Sheqafrica.com is Africa's largest independent SHEQ Magazine, hosting over 2 000 articles and news items since 2007. Sheqafrica.com is owned by the Cygma Group, a global provider of risk management and compliance solutions. Sheqafrica.com is registered as a digital publication with the ISSN.

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Sheqafrica.com is Africa's largest independent SHEQ Magazine, hosting over 2 000 articles and news items since 2007. Sheqafrica.com is owned by the Cygma Group, a global provider of risk management and compliance solutions. Sheqafrica.com is registered as a digital publication with the ISSN.

1 Comment on "Transparent USA labour law review in 2015"

  1. Danny van Zyl | 14 February 2015 at 15:19 |

    One just need to watch the “State of the Nation” fiasco to fully understand why this article is valid to H&S. H&S are regulated by a body that can not even regulate themselves.
    Scrap the Crap!
    Let the Wall Fall!!
    Before more people leave for the UK – the ones who are to “train” those that are to be registered.
    And for the Prof….how many times does the word “health” come up in the BTech Safety Management or the B.Com Risk Management?? Less than in my question!

    ==== Former editor notes; The construction Prof promoting the raising of OH in OHS law, training, and practice, is not involved in the Unisa BTech Safety Management or BCom Safety /Risk.
    The latter are managerial courses, and consider health as a separate discipline.
    As Rudy and the international specialist commented about OHS divisions, there is a scientific divide, which managerial practice and law such as OHS Acts worldwide crossed and created a multi-cisciplinairy practice. The construction Prof says let’s mix it up better; some universities say study both if you want to practice both.
    I advise practitoiners to specialise after OHS Rep level.
    So your question goes to the root cause of one of our sills dilemmas.

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