The future of Safety officers in SA is limited and more and more people enter the arena on a two-weekly basis. The proliferation of SAQA accredited short-courses has created a massive over-supply of “Safety professionals” and employers are spoilt for choice. This has led to almost 14% of experienced Safety professionals leaving the profession in search of greener pastures either outside of SA or in other sectors.
The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter for those who stick around, with the upcoming publication of the Property Practitioners Bill, which were first published on 31 March 2017 for public comment. After receiving in excess of 1500 submissions, the bill was referred back to the Department of Human Settlements and is yet to be published.
The PPA, which is to replace the Estate Agents Affairs Board Act, will expand on the scope of the definition of property practitioners and also create a statutory registration regime. Hopefully it will not be as cumbersome as the DOL’s SACPCMP partnership, but time will tell.
Safety officers who find it hard to get jobs, or register for the construction sector, will soon have the chance of shape-shifting, using the skills acquired in risk assessment, inspections and auditing to penetrate the real estate market.
According to the PPA Bill, a “property practitioner” includes a person who assesses property to determine the defects, value for money and fit for use as part of the conclusion of an agreement to sell and purchase, or hire or let a property.
This paragraph alone is all that is needed for a Safety officer to shift focus by providing the service of building inspections and suitability assessments prior to sale or occupation. The specific knowledge of foundations, structural design and roof installations as well as the relevant SANS codes, which is common knowledge to Safety officers and others who had Building Science as a study subject. Knowledge of the Construction regulations and National Building Regulations and Standards also ads to this portfolio.
Home and Building inspections
According to John Graham, CEO of House Check, a typical property inspection will focus on two areas:
- Areas of the property that may be defective such as the roof, waterproofing, roof cavities, walls, visible foundations and slabs, floors and ceilings, windows and doors, plumbing and drains, electrical and gas installations and ground and storm water drainage.
- The Safety and health of the Building, including faulty geyser installations, mould and damp, illegal electrical, gas or electric fence installations, faulty automatic gates and doors with defective child safety devices, safety glass, safety of swimming pools and a lack of required fire walls.
In addition to the typical home safety inspections and audits, commercial properties such as shopping centres and office complexes also requires annual structural inspections as required by the Construction regulations under duties of the owners. With the introduction of the new Asbestos regulations, owners of buildings would also require the input of Safety professionals in the assessment of Asbestos and asbestos-related materials.
Safety officers who want to penetrate this market, will need to be accredited by the National Association of Building Inspectors of South Africa, the professional body for this profession. Part of the accreditation process will be a required qualification as a Certified Property Assessment Practitioner. The SAQA accredited qualification will be offered in the near future under the auspices of the LGSeta and is a prerequisite to the National Building Inspectors qualification under the QCTO.