Posted on: June 8, 2010 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 1

Construction safety practitioners opposing a draft registration scheme, call on the construction SETA (CETA), to keep a qualifications, experience and skills register.

Bateman Engineering Projects HS&E officer Pieter Oosthuizen commented:” I have raised many questions and concerns on various forums and workshops, where the establishment of a regulator body was discussed, on behalf of major project management houses.

“The presenters said they ‘took note and would respond’, but I have received no responses, and a deafening silence from the Department of Labour.

“I also raised the question about the ‘Ray Strydom factor’, noting that IoSM ring leaders and mates were first to ‘grade and register’ by Ray Strydom. Afterwards a drive was launched to recruit members to register in anticipation of the new ‘legal requirement’ driven by Ray Strydom, before he left IoSM and to head the so-called accreditation body, using his resources, to gain a retirement ‘package’”, Oosthuizen said.

“I put it to IoSM that they did not have the required experience or knowledge to judge competency of safety professionals or practitioners, due to the wide range of construction activities. I agree with other objectors that it is almost impossible to judge competency by a single system of evaluation.

“The state is sanctioning a system to regulate construction safety practice, and presumably soon all safety practice, by a single mechanism. This sanction takes us back to the historic national Nosa system and grading syndrome, while most large operators work internationally, incorporating various standards, legislations, best practice and corporate codes into SHEQ management”, Oosthuizen commented.

“Most of these are not even incorporated into SAQA unit standards yet. I fail to see how a private grading scheme would help industry. We experience an ongoing fiasco with registration of construction managers and supervisors, due to the same misguided impulse to ‘regulate standards’.

“Typical SHEQ managers, accepted as HSE professionals, have Nadsam or an equivalent diploma, with five years experience in a relevant industry, at management level. Few have safety degrees.

“HSE practitioners are typically working towards the former national diploma in safety management, or a degree, with at least a Samtrac or equivalent short course qualifications, and three years construction experience”, Oosthuizen said.

“Employers are keenly aware of differences in SHEQ practice and experience between construction, mining, petrochemicals, offshore, marine, manufacturing and other industries, despite commonalities in HSE short courses.

“Some SHEQ professionals and practitioners are certified auditors, already paying annual registration fees, while employers or themselves are funding their studies, that usually involve assessments for recognition of prior learning (RPL)”, Oosthuizen commented.

“The state apparently wants us to pay yet another fee for the doubtful privilege of yet another assessment, grading, registration, and regular re-grading to the ‘levels’ of a scheme like OHSAP. This is not acceptable to industry.

“Our industry recommendation is for the Sectoral Education and Training Authorities, Setas, to keep registers of HSE practitioners, based on qualifications and experience, by a standard set of criteria. The state needs such figures in any event, and the Setas are already tasked to assess general training levels and assure training standards.

“We support regulation of the profession via Setas, but not as recommended in the Construction Regulations amendment draft,” Oosthuizen said.

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