IOSM calls for OHS registration unity

Institute of Safety Management (IOSM) president Joep Joubert called for OHS registration unity in an email to Saiosh and DOL, given verbatim below;

Over the past number of years, Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) as a profession has been plagued with a lack of cohesion and focus for a variety of reasons.

This led, more recently, to recognition by SAQA of three professional bodies directly involved in OHS.

Unfortunately, this also led to different standards being applied to professional designations, which negatively impacts on the credibility of OHS practitioners in South Africa in general.

At the same time other professional bodies were also recognised for specialist functions in which OHS practitioners werealready closely involved, or in a many of cases, directly responsible for,e.g. Work at Height and Occupational Hygiene.

Also, until the promulgation of the 2014 Construction Regulations, there were no licence to practice requirements for OHS persons specifically, which meant that there was very little drive for OHS practitioners to actually register.

Thus there are still a large number of practitioners practicing without conformance to the basic competencies indicated by good practice.

Problem statement
The lack of a single body regulating the practice and ethics of OHS in all industries, from Construction through General Industry to Mining is seen as a weakness in the South African Occupational Health and Safety landscape.

This creates problems in terms of uniform registration criteria, registration processes, ethical practices, standard deliverablesfor scope of service/responsibilities of practitioners and the general credibility of the profession.

Assumption
The basis for this paper is the assumption that the registration of OHS Practitioners will become a legislative requirement in the near future.

Purpose of this document
This document strives to initiate the process of establishing a single professional body that will be responsible for the registration of all OHS practitioners in all sectors of RSA industry, including mining, by providing a basis for discussion.

Thus it is intended that this discussion document should not be seen as an absolute position taken by any party or person. It should also not be seen as representing the only alternative to the perceived problem stated above but exploring oneof a range of solutions to the problem.

Role and Function
It is anticipated that a Professional Body will act as the representative body for all OHS practitioners in the country in the following respects.

a. Itis expected that this body would be the overall registration body for all practitioners from all industry sectors in South Africa.

b. This body will be responsible for managing the administration and assessment associated with registration and membership implied by a registration process.

c. As such it will interact with all other bodies on behalf of OHS practitioners.

d. A goal would be to encourage the appointment by employers of competent, registered OHS practitioners.

e. It should act as a consultative organ and allow the exchange of information, the sharing of knowledge and experience and develop and promote techniques for the prevention of those incidents which result in death, injury, poor health and loss.

f. It should also oversee and protect the professional interests of the registered members and monitor and ensure that the necessary professional conduct/etiquette is maintained.

g. It would establish and maintain a body of knowledge with easy access for registered members and work towards the regular dissemination of news, information and articles to members electronically or through meetings or workshops.

h. It should also work towards expandingthis body of knowledge, through the support of high level research and other means.

Possible Alternatives
Potentially a number of alternatives to the current situation could be considered, each of which would have its own implications for OHS in SA.

a. Option One: Retain the status quo i.e., a proliferation of professional bodies, offering different registration standards and creating overall confusion inside and outside of the OHS profession as to standards and requirements to practice.

b. Option Two: Retain the current professional bodies with their professional designations as recognised by SAQA, but introduce an overarching registration body that would be responsible for a separate registration scheme to establish and ensure a uniform standard and fair process.

c. Option Three: Retain the professional bodies as currently recognised by SAQA with their own membership categories, but without recognised professional designations. With this introduce an overarching registration body that will be responsible for a separate registration process to establish a uniform standard and fair process towards a single set of professional designations.

d. Option Four: Establish a totally new, credible professional body, separate from all previous, that will replace all other professional bodies with its own constitution, rules, designations and standards as agreed though a comprehensive consultation process involving as many interested parties as possible.

e. Option Five:As an alternative to the broaderoptions identified above, it may be possible for the DoL registration process for AIA’sto be expanded to include the requirement for OHS practitioners to be registered as AIAs with the Department, using basically the existing AIA registration process with appropriate refinements.

Other options or variations/combinations of the proposed options may also be viable but none have been considered for the purposes of this document.

This document supports the proposal that Option Four would be the best solution for OHS in SA in general, hence it is further explored in the rest of the document.

Administration and control
It is proposed that the development and subsequently administration of a single, unified professional body would be overseen by a National Council/Board of Directors consisting of members from:

• Department of Labour (DoL)
• Department of Mineral Resources (DMR)
• Department of Public Works (DPW)
• Representatives from Business
• Representatives from existing Professional Bodies
• Representation from non-aligned professionals.

The activities and functioning of this Council/Board and all bodies established under its control will be directed by a Constitution agreed during the establishment process.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act make provision for the establishment of such a controlling body through Section 43(1)(b), (e), (g), (i) and (k).

Administrative functions will be performed by an office overseen by a manager appointed by the Council/Board.

A quality management system (QMS) will have to be developed and implemented so that recognition as a professional body could be solicited from SAQA or whatever higher order regulatory body may be prescribed by Government.

Professional designations
Professional designations similar to those described below are proposed, subject to discussions and agreement by the various bodies involved;

• OHS Coordinator/technician/officer
• OHS Practitioner
• OHS Professional/manager
• OHS Specialist (categories to be agreed but consisting of e.g., construction, chemical, mining, transport, working at height)
• Candidates at all levels

Registration criteria
Registration Criteria listed are proposed for the different designations. Specific qualifications are only mentioned to create a frame of reference and are not intended to be an exhaustive list:

• OHS Coordinator/technician/ officer
o Qualifications
 Specified competencies covered through short courses similar to theInstitute of Safety Management (IOSM) Model orpoints allocation aligned to the SA Council for Construction and Project Management Professions (SACPCMP) qualifications scoring model.
o Experience
 3 years OHS experience
o Aptitude/Attitude assessment?

• OHS Practitioner
o Qualifications
 ND Safety Management, B Com Operational Risk, BA Emergency and Safety Management
 Short Course option building on previous competencies
o Experience
 5 years OHS experience
o Aptitude/Attitude assessment?

• OHS Professional/manager
o Qualifications
 B Tech Safety Management, NHD Safety Management, Honours degree in related field
o Experience
 7 years OHS experience
o Aptitude/Attitude assessment?

• OHS Specialist (List to be decided)
o Generic Qualification
 ND Safety Management, B Com Operational Risk, BA Emergency and Safety Management
 Short Course option building on previous competencies
o Specialist Qualification
 ND or degree in specialist area
 Short courses covering identified competencies.
o Experience
 3 years generic OHS plus 2 years in specialisation or
 5 years in specialisation
o Aptitude/Attitude assessment?

• Applicants to be deferred to Candidate status at the relevant level or a subordinate level where their experience does not meet the requirement for the particular level.

• Applicants to be awarded provisional registration when their theoretical background or other specific aspect needs improvement that is achievable in a relatively short time period.

Assessment
Assessments will be conducted based on the following:
• The suitability of the applicant’s qualifications
• Proven experience (report?)
• A written examination or interview. Testing of knowledge and competence is considered a requirement due to the following factors:
o A variation in quality of short courses (accredited, non-accredited, old/new)
o A huge variation in exposure/quality of experience
o Variation in individual’s ability to apply knowledge
11.Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL):
RPL will be allowed but will be based on outcomes reflected in required qualifications at the particular level.

Cost and sustainability
It is almost impossible to determine the number of OHS practitioners that would have to follow the proposed new registration process which makes calculating the potential costs and sustainability of such a registration body conjecture to a large degree.

Projections by the SACPCMP indicate that they are expecting approximately 6 000 OHS practitioners to go through the registration systemin the Construction Health and Safety arena (SACPCMP CHS Background and Funding draft).

The HWSETA,in their Sector Skills Plan update for 2014/2015 merely reflects the role of OHS Practitioners inthe scarce skills category. However, the plan only reflects a shortage of 33 OHS Practitioners and Managers, without any indication as to their overall estimate of the number of active OHS Practitioners in the Country.

Stats SA indicates a total employed labour force of approximately 15 055 000 (Stats SA presentation, dated 16 September 2014). If an assumption is made that 0.25% of the labour force practices as an Occupational Health and Safety Practitioner at some level,

Approximately 37 000 people practices in OHS.
However, based on the available information, a reasonably accurate guess would be that a minimum of 25 000 practitioners in all industries and at all levels would have to go through such a registration process.

Learning from the SACPCMP process, it can be expected that this will manifest as an initially large inflow of applications. This position would require management which, in turn, would result in correspondingly extra initial administrative costs. These could be expected to level out over a period of time.

Due to the large number of unknowns and variables, it is not considered viable to provide a detailed costing for such a body at this early stage, although very basic projections indicate that this body should be profitable over the initial period as well as in the longer term.
This aspect would require further research to confirm the sustainability for such a body.

Relation to current processes and professional bodies
In order to accommodate and manage the current situation, the following process is proposed:
• Those that currently have a SAQA recognised professional designation with a professional body will have to re-apply to the new body.
• The current registration level would generally be accepted but must be proven by exam/interview.
• Current membership/registration may remain, but will not replace new registration.
• Current registration at SACPCMP will be accepted as Construction specialist (without an exam/interview).
• Currently registered specialists registered with IOSM, W@H, etc. will be accepted as specialist for that particular area
In addition, it is anticipated that the following broad transitional arrangements should be considered:
• A two year transitional period should be allowed from publication in the Government Gazette
• Any current registration status will lapse after two years (i.e. a dual system will only exist for two years)

Continued Professional Development (CPD)
It is anticipated that the following guidelines should be applied to CPD. Specific points and cycle prescriptions to be agreed.
• Courses and activities of other professional bodies will be vetted for CPD value
• Short courses of service providers will be vetted for CPD value
• Conferences etc. will have to be accredited for CPD value
• Mentoring of candidates/juniors will carry CPD value
• Articles and papers at Conferences to be vetted for CPD value
• Membership of appropriate Councils or Boards will carry CPD value.

* Source; IOSM.

* See other posts about IOSM/ OHSAP, SAIOSH /IOSH SA, their initial unity plan, the SAQA policy on profesisonal bodies and criticism of its application, SACPCMP, construction health and safety registration and criticism, the Work at Height Institute, SAIOH, ACHASM, DASH, NIOCCSA, the two quality profesisonal bodies, the envionmental assessment professional registration body under the DEA, the MQA /QCTO mining health and safety curriculum standard, and an event safety registration plan, on Sheqafrica.com.

IOSM /OHSAP and Noshebo, SFA and Sapema kingpin Ray Strydom. He lost control of the occupational hygiene body SAIOH some years ago.
IOSM /OHSAP /Noshebo /SFA /Sapema kingpin Ray Strydom. He lost control of the occupational hygiene body SAIOH some years ago.
Neels Nortje led a break from IOSM some years ago to form Saiosh /IOSH SA. He is also a Master Builders KZN health and safety official, and a member of the Minister of Labour's Advisory Council for Occupational Health and Safety (ACOHS).
Neels Nortje led a break from IOSM some years ago to form Saiosh /IOSH SA. He is also a Master Builders KZN health and safety official, and a member of the Minister of Labour’s Advisory Council for Occupational Health and Safety (ACOHS).
SACPCMP Registrar Nomvula Rakalote is the only registrar with legal sanction, but only over certain construction health and safety practitioners, and under authority of the Department of Public Works. The scheme recognises several voluntary memberships, such as Achasm, by adding three points towards certain designations. The voluntary bodies are using construction registration as a precedent to ask the DOL to enforce health and safety registration on practitioners in all industrial and business sectors, including mining.
SACPCMP Registrar Nomvula Rakalote is the only registrar with legal sanction, but only over certain construction health and safety practitioners, and under authority of the Department of Public Works. The scheme recognises several voluntary memberships, such as Achasm, by adding three points towards certain designations. The voluntary bodies are using construction registration as a precedent to ask the DOL to enforce health and safety registration on practitioners in all industrial and business sectors, including mining.
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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.

9 thoughts on “IOSM calls for OHS registration unity

  1. I hope IoSM has got rid of the “Grandfather clause” that was used by so-called safety experts to protect certain persons without tertiary qualifications in safety (30 year olds being grandfathers).

    ==== Editor notes; It would not matter either way, since IOSM is a voluntary body; of few members; their designations are limited to safety only; and most employers do not recognise their designations. Uncle Ray and Uncle Joep maintain a semblance of a ghost of an ‘institute’, just to give themselves clout in legislation and business.

  2. There is no doubt of the need for uniform regulation, with specific requirements, for specific professions, such as education, from kindergarten up, but tertuary seems to be excluded? DoL, mining, machinery, etc, but not education.
    However beware what has happened in the paramedical field – huge costs to become qualified; antiquated requirements; sausage machine national diplomas; high annual membership fees; etc, etc. Fat cats sitting at the top and no longer joining the foot soldiers.
    In the OHS Act, we are dealing with lives and investments. Buildings worth millions need to be adaquately secured against fire etc.
    I love what is said above, but for heaven’s sake – fees, salaries, memberships, etc, must not keep out those with OHS interests, but instead keep the way open for all income groups to become, and remain, extremely competent, with pride in their ability.

    1. “There is no doubt of the need for uniform regulation,” Are you sure? I cannot think of ONE reason why there is a need in the first place.

      ==== Editor notes; The quote refers to the supposed need to regulate health and safety practice in other industries, outside construction, by also forcing them to register with a body. Preferably a body also consulted and contracted to Joep and the uncles, or directly with a consortium of uncles. They are already jetting around the country to mentor, examine, interview, and develop applicants /professionals /members.
      The only need for extending the CASHCOW scheme is to expand the racket. The bodies relative to the DOL resemble Cosatu relative to the ANC. -Edmond Furter.

  3. The IOSM ship is sinking fast, no more members, no more income. Desperate times calls for desperate measures.

    1. If Gerald is right, unity is going to be one step closer and the sooner the netter, I for one are eagerly waiting on my SACPCMP registration (exam/interview) in order to have no further incidents on my sites, as my current qualifications, experience, training and learning, do not prevent incidents, it actually causes incidents because the competent people in our employ, just do not know enough about their trades/careers and hopefully my registration is going to fill that gap!

      ==== Editor notes; I also have loads of optimism, but not for this scheme. I have tried to fathom how construction health and safety officer registration exams and CPD videos could raise skills and reduce incidents, but I come to different conclusions.
      And how the re-union of two volutary bodies, that split for tactical reasons, would further reduce incidents, I also file along with urban legends of ‘professional employees’, and the gap filled by the tooth fairy. -Edmond Furter

  4. Ag Joep, my old tutor. I actually have much to thank you for. You have done much for H&S in South Africa through your work at Technikon SA and UNISA. But my friend… the world is a big place, and there are many much better qualifications on offer and professional membership institutions that could be looked to for examples, best practice and guidance. So… stop scratching in the dirt with the chickens and find a way to soar high in the sky with the eagles. These same discussions have been taking place for the last seventeen years that I have followed IoSM and it’s activities. It’s just been a hobby club all these years.

    ==== Editor notes; Except that the uncles’ hobby club has split into several hydra heads, (such as the Occuipational Healh and Safety Assessment Panel, OHSAP) and transformed their coercion tactics to incidentally suit the agenda of large construction employers, and of the DOL. These are tactics worthy of the Dr Robert Mugabe school of political strategy.
    Not of safety, health, environment, quality, or corporate governance. No King III designations here. -Edmond Furter

  5. After a three week overseas trip it is not surprising to see that nothing has changed in SA. Not even the plans of the Ism’s of the world. I therefore want to add a few more options.
    Option 6 – Admit that there is no “profession” called Health & Safety. One of the findings of Prof Smallwood’s report on the State of Health & Safety in Construction is the fact that there are too many “short courses” in H&S and not a single qualification that is deemed the “required” qualification. Address this first and you would not need a morgue of bodies to regulate the profession.

    And dear Uncle Joep… you have to admit that after 30 odd years of failure, any other idea you may have are seen as another failure, right? Seriously now? Do you expect us to believe that after 30 years of failing you found the route to success? Come on now! We are not that stupid anymore. We grew up in the 30 years that has obviously passed you by unnoticed.
    No ladies and gentlemen. There is not even unity in what is required in a H&S file. How on earth do you expect to achieve unity in a profession that is made up of more qualifications than legal appointments? Get real!

    ==== Editor; The decades of flogging a dead donkey are due to IOSM, not Joep. Him and uncle Neels and the Master Builders resucitated the IOSM donkey, sneaked it past SAQA and practitioners at night, on long weekends, and in a certain December break, and sold it to the DOL.
    I am still looking for those fly-by-nights that the uncles and their schemes are saving us all from. I think some of these pilots are among the registration applicants. See the report on the exemptions, particularly the DOL and SACPCMP warnings about the activities of some registration applicants in broad daylight. The Registrar, Nomvula, calls this kind of activity “South African creativity”.

    Remember the favourite IOSM exam ‘spot’ question on how to calcualte the wet bulb temperature of the bull-roarer heat exposure meter? Part of their reason for existence is to spot what is not in HS training, and to present it in the form of CPD, a kind of collective mentoring by uncles. When IOSM wrote the unit standards in SGB 8, the based these on occupational hygiene and environment, leaving out safety management, so that they could fill that gap. Sneaky. -Edmond Furter.

    1. Ag no Danny – there is a profession that covers Health and Safety. In fact health and safety is incorporated into everything you do to live like eat, drink, travel, wear clothes… even if you wrap yourself up in cotton wool and put yourself in a padded room, you could suffocate or starve or choke.

      But it does not take a professor to write a report on how little world class health and safety training there is in South Africa for professionals /practitioners who must help drive health and safety and design and implement management systems to know that there is.

      ==== Editor notes; Actually three or more professions (health, nanagement, law, psychology, technology, etc), which leave the door open to all kinds of institutes, executives and boards to operate in addition to formal academia and trade crafts.
      Our problems start as soon as some of these artful bodies are given legal sanction to serve their own ends. -Edmond Furter

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