Consultants ask state to rethink safety registration

Consulting body NIOCCSA asked the ministers of Public Works, Public Enterprise, and Labour, to rethink enforced health and safety registration.

NIOCCSA director Rudy Maritz wrote to Public Works minister Nxesi, Public Enterprises minister Lynn Brown, and Labour minister Mildred Oliphant in December 2014;

“Honourable Ministers, the future of a small group of people in South Africa, working as Construction Health and Safety Officers, lie in your hands. These people come from all walks of life, race, and creed, and their function in the labour market is to protect millions of employees from getting ill or injured at work.

“The Construction Industry, besides being known for paying fines to the Competition Commission regarding collusion and tender rigging, are notorious for its high incident and exposure statistics.

“Many of these OHS people are unfairly blamed for incidents, which has resulted in changes to the Construction Regulations Amendment and SACPCMP Act, via the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

“Their employment status could be affected from 2015. Most general health and safety officers have no tertiary qualifications, and only a number of short courses to equip them for their valued responsibilities.

“They are now also faced with the unfair, onerous and expensive process of professional registration with the South African Council for Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP), established under the Council for the Built Environment (CBE), which, Honourable Minister Nxesi, falls under DPW jurisdiction.

“We have conducted some opinion polls amongst these practitioners, these life savers of industry, and they are not in favour of a process that may humiliate them, remove the pride in their jobs, and prevent them from participating in their particular job market.

“These fears are based on the provision that construction employers must appoint health and safety officers who are registered with the SACPCMP.

“We have proposed a plan of action that will address the fears of these practitioners without defeating the objective of the Construction Regulations.

“Our proposal requires a minor amendment to the regulations to allow Honourable Minister Oliphant’s department to handle registration at low cost, once off. Attached is our proposal submitted to the DOL Chief Inspector /DG.

“When DPW and DOL jointly launched the Construction Regulations Amendment, we as a professional society representing consultants, appreciated your efforts in clamping down on employers, construction clients and designers of buildings and structures.

“We agree with registration of Construction Health and Safety Agents, who are involved in design and engineering. CHS Managers may turn out to be Construction Managers and Project Managers, already registered with the SACPCMP, who should add health and safety skills to their training and designation.

“However Construction Health and Safety Officers are not involved at that level, and should not have to register, which would divert their limited study time and budgets towards extensive and onerous procedures, and away from education and training.

“Registration of Officers would also have a detrimental effect on small building contractors, due to the cost of appointing registered CHS officers, or paying for their registration, and could remove many of them from the construction sector.

“Regarding these and related issues, being hotly debated in industry, in organised labour, and even among the 900 odd registration applicants, we respectfully request that you review our proposal, and issue a general exemption to health and safety officers from the requirement to be registered and re-assessed for competency. -Rudy Maritz, NIOCCSA. [the above citation is an extract from a more detailed letter]

Voluntary body Saiosh offers ‘registration credits’
Voluntary OHS registration body Saiosh said it has been “inundated with queries related to the SACPCMP registration. Members want to know who should register, when to register, why to register and more importantly how it relates to their membership with Saiosh.

“It is important to understand that registration with the SACPCMP is only required when practicing health and safety in the construction industry, as prescribed by the Project and Construction Management Professions Act and the Construction Regulations 2014.

“If you are not sure if you fit the bill then you need to compare your scope of work with that of the SACPCMP construction health and safety designations’ scope of work which is listed on their website…

“The question could be asked, why two registration authorities for the same community or profession? Most other professions have the same scenario, take engineering for example: In order to obtain professional status an engineer will have to be registered with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA), depending on the choice of career the engineer will also have to register with a sector specific body e.g. mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering etc.

“For those who practice health and safety in the construction industry and also have to register with the SACPCMP, there is some good news. Saiosh is a registered Voluntary Association (VA) with the SACPCMP and members applying for registration with the SACPCMP will get automatic credits towards their application.”

A commentator asked Sheqafrica.com; “I wonder how this ‘credit points’ dual safety registration system works? What is the ‘point’ of registration and multiplication?

“The voluntary mechanism may be unfair, since voluntary registration is based on a few points for relevant qualifications and experience, which are also accorded points in the SACPCMP application, thus double counting, amounting to buying points without extra skills.”

• See the initial NIOCCSA request to DOL chief inspector (now DOL director general) Thobile Lamati, on Sheqafrica.com. See a string of comments by occupational health and safety practitioners below the post on Comments at http://sheqafrica.com/health-and-safety-registration-5/
• See prior public comment and motivations against SACPCMP health and safety registration, on Sheqafrica.com, also with a string of comments by practitioners attached, or comment on the NIOCCSA website.

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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 “Consultants ask state to rethink safety registration

  1. “Consulting body NIOCCSA director Rudy Maritz proposes yet another solution …..” If anything Maritz must be given credit for trying. At least now, for the first time, NIOCCSA is knocking on the right door, the door of the Department of Public Works. This is the Department that holds the key, the key to unlock Section 18(1)(C) and 18(2) of the Project and Construction Management Professions Act 48 of 2000 that prescribe CHS registration.

  2. Mark, your ingorance really astounds me. Why have you not registered yet? Waiting for the outcome of this debate or not qualified enough? Or waiting for the next exemption? A quick search on the so-called public register of the SACPCMP reveals that there are only 6 registered persons at CHSO level. The rush to get registered clearly indicates resistance from everybody. With only 8 months to go, where will the other 2994 come from? The grave? OR from your pool of Saai Osse?

  3. To quote Professor Smallwood:
    “: Just because a 1 000 fools gather in a room and agree that the earth is flat, does not make the earth flat.”

    Go ahead! Support the SACPCMP. The earth is flat!

  4. Thank you. You have my full support!
    It is time H&S practitioners take a stand. We have been wrapped over the knuckles for being “cops”, accused of incompetence, prevented by CEO’s from doing our jobs properly, and now the DOL (Who’s job we are doing) wants to kick us out? HELL NO!!!
    Thobile, Tibor, and Phumi, the three top brass! You should listen to the professionals and not those buddies with a vested interest in the outcome. Do not get egg on your faces.
    Remember where this whole “registration” comes from? Long before the SACPCMP was even in the picture? Those very same people are pushing your buttons. You are losing your status as law-enforcers. Take back what is yours. Handle the registration process yourselves. This is me asking nicely.
    Opposition is growing by the hour and the real campaign against the status quo only started 24 hours ago.

  5. I did a quick comparison of FEES!
    Safety officers have to pay R1 for every R69.50 they earn to the SACPCMP.
    Average salary = R179 767 – Registration fees = R2585

    Medical doctors have to pay R1 for every R256.98 they earn to the HPCSA.
    Average salary = R368 500 – Registration fees = R1432

    There is seriously something wrong with this picture.

  6. Raaait! So which highly respected member of the Flat Earth Society did you say determined these fees?

    ==== Editor notes; Danny, touche to you. The prof was contracted by the SACPCMP to research reasonably practicable (they must not complain too much) fees.
    My best lecturers also legitimately moonlighted as consultants, doing what the client required, thus keeping current their industry and work experience. Perhaps not always in line with ideal ivory tower ideals. The construction management prof also has a left hand and a right hand.

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