SACPCMP Registrar Nomvula Rakalote said construction health and safety registration would prevent incidents such as the Alberton slab collapse.
She spoke on Talk Radio 702 on the day of the multiple fatal incident, by implication blaming unregistered project managers, and health and safety Agents, Managers and Officers, for slab collapses such as the recent Thongathi Mall collapse, reports Edmond Furter.
Registrar Rakalote also led listeners to believe that these lawless occupational health and safety Agents, Managers and Officers, once registered, would be competent, be appointed by developers, and save lives.
These verbal implications, though meticulously absent in official statements, are misleading. They ‘talk up’ the narrow and misguided agenda of Rakalote, her board, her newly appointed staff, the expansion of their Public Works authority to the Department of Labour designation, their private contractors, and the voluntary associations with whom they share the registration agenda.
Rakalote bemoaned the loss of life at the Thongathi Mall and Alberton collapses, while ironically the DOL investigation heard the predicatable evidence that health and safety practitioners do not influence factors related to floor slab and pillar integrity.
Not even when they raise the alarm and ask questions about missing pillars and apparent structural strain.
[UPDATE 21 AUGUST: SACPCMP Registrar Nomvula Rakalote said on Talk Radio 702 on the Xolani Gwala show, in comment on the Meyersdal house site slab collapse [summary of transcript]; ‘We are the regulator of construction professionals… specifically regarding that building, construction health and safety officers, managers and agents will now have to register.’
‘DOL construction head Mpumi Mapha has gone to Alberton to investigate… whether they filed a Notification and other issues. Should registered professionals be involved, we would act. The incident has been reported to SACPCMP council. We are monitoring the progress. We are also saddened by the Thongathi Mall incident.’
Xolani Gwala: ‘It seems anyone could become involve in construction without construction qualifications?’
Rakalote; ‘They must have relevant qualifications and experience. The health and safety professionals now have to register, in terms of the Construction Regulations Amendment of the DOL. We are in the process of professionalising and registering, or they could not work in construction.’
Xolani Gwala; ‘Does that apply to managers or workers?’
Rakalote; ‘We are looking at registration. There are many bodies involved in construction. We register individuals for competence. It has not been the case in the past. Specifically construction health and safety officers, managers and agents. All the others already have to be registered.’ -end of summary of transcript.
It has since emerged that the work was an extension to the second storey of a house. The inevitable investigation could result in more than the usual fixing of blame. This time, some fingers could point at the need to improve the quality of legislation, enforcement, research, training, general construction practice, and OHS representation. END OF UPDATE].
The DOL is apparently becoming aware that their enforcement of construction permission slips and safety files is insufficient and ineffective, and that developers, owners and contractors see design, engineering, reinforcement, concrete mixes, and factors of safety, as opportunities to save costs, not to save lives.
The DOL is also apparently becoming aware that employers and agencies are not interested in world class health and safety skills, only in ‘minimum compliance’.
And they are becoming aware that the general OHS skills level of one or another two-week course, is a world away from the kind of health and safety pie in the sky that the state and professional bodies are promising to deliver, by appointing private registration examiners and CPD providers.
The voluntary associations are already each divided into two bodies to cash in on the registration racket; one acronym as the non-profit front for the other acronym, that indirectly charges practitioners for the privilege of writing essays, exams, online tests, and attending workshops.
As the demand for registration tickets replace real training and mentorship, the DOL and the ‘professional’ registration brigades would probably blame teething problems in the forthcoming decades.
I repeat the simple question that I have asked of everyone supporting health and safety registration and professional codes of conduct: what is the ratio of the number of construction slab collapses, to the number of engineers scrapped from the roll?
How does this supposed ‘professional oversight and discipline’ affect developers?
The SACPCMP and the DOL are merely looking for someone to blame for the mess they are making of legislation and professionalisation, both with the close assistance of voluntary associations and certain contractors linked to those associations.
They may as well blame the recent seismic event in Orkney for the collapse, as some unknown callers to the radio station have done.
Public opinion, judging by the summary of the radio talk show host, blames contractors for hiring unskilled workers. They do not question the work of engineers, doctors, lawyers, developers and other ‘professionals’.
Wheelbarrow drivers and basic labourers do not cause construction slab collapses.
General Rakalote and the DOL cavalry are barking up the wrong tree, skinning the wrong cat, hatcing safety skill chickens before the training eggs are laid, calling the kettle black, the pot not black enough, and throwing stones while living in glass offices. -Edmond Furter
DOL announces Alberton collapse investigation
The Department of Labour sent a team of inspectors to investigate the building collapse in Alberton on Monday 18 August 2014.
They expressed shock at the deaths of seven workers, and injuries to seven others, following the collapse of contruction and improvements to an extention to a double-story house in Meyersdal Eco Estate.
Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant has sent her condolences to the nine bereaved families and wished a speedy recovery to those in hospital.
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