In response to our queries on professionalisation of safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ) practice, and health and safety training standards, Prof Haupt, a member of the Advisory Committee on Occupational Health and Safety (ACOHS) that advises the Department of Labour, explained his personal views to SHEQafrica.com;
“I have for a long time opposed any form of registration of ‘professionals’, because if that is what they were, there would be no need for registration. However, realities of South African society have made me rethink my stance.
“Consequences of inappropriate H&S advice and construction practices are severe and potentially catastrophic to all parties. Construction demands career commitment.
“Unfortunately the construction sector is populated by many who seek commercial expediency without the requisite commitment to acquire relevant construction qualifications or levels of professionalism.
“I support the Council for Project and Construction Management Professions, SACPCMP (* see status detail in postscript), as mandatory registrar of professional designations, with duties and responsibilities to the Council for the Built Environment (CBE).
“Membership of other, private professional bodies or institutes should be voluntary. Self regulation is an option in developed economies, but not necessarily in developing ones.
“SACPCMP has unified aims. They are also responsible for accrediting construction education programs as an opportunity and vehicle for ensuring construction H&S is adequately covered in accredited programs.
“The large body of construction legislation, including mandatory registration, must attain synergy. Construction H&S should be about changing the way we work to ensure health and safety.
“I support some of the views expressed by opponents of the Construction Regulations amendment draft, but I do not support the notion of non-registration. Perhaps some forum could be established through which divergent views could be discussed and debated.
“The Construction Regulations amendment is a step in the right direction. Perhaps the amendments are too early, given that the previous version had not started to ‘bite’ yet.
“I do not support the notion of training unit standards. Construction does not take place in this way. I prefer instead a comprehensive integrated curriculum of a whole qualification.
Several construction qualifications already exist, outside the SAQA framework. For example, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology offers a BTech in Construction Management Health and Safety, and the Nelson Mandela Metroplitan University offers a Masters degree in Construction H&S.
“Setas, particularly Construction Seta, have generally failed to deliver on their mandate and are certainly not the vehicle for professional registration.
Construction H&S officer definition
”SHEQ should be a unified profession, excluding perhaps medical aspects of occupational health and occupational hygiene.
“A ‘construction health and safety practitioner’ as proposed in the draft amendment, should be a professional with appropriate, industry specific qualifications from an accredited institution or program.
“SHEQ practice should in general be unified, irrespective of industrial sector, however, construction H&S requires specialised management, based on a deep knowledge and understanding of the relevant construction processes.
“Generic SHEQ specialists should be able to acquire the requisite knowledge in construction courses.”
* SACPCMP is a DOL statutory body under the PCMP Act, 48 of 2000, and since 2002 mandated to create specified categories of registration for construction H&S, and guide construction H&S, among other functions. The registrar is Thoko Machimane.
PHOTO; Prof Theo Haupt.
* Prof Theo C Haupt, PhD, MPhil, Pr CM, is a member of the Advisory Committee on Occupational Health and Safety (ACOHS) that consults the Department of Labour (DOL) on the Construction Regulations amendment draft.
He is also director of Building Construction Science at the College of Architecture, Art and Design, Mississippi State University, visiting professor at University of Johannesburg Department of Construction Management, Immediate past president of the Association of Schools of Construction of Southern Africa (ASOCSA), and joint international co-ordinator of CIB TG59 on People in Construction.