The new general safety practice qualification would be offered for registration with the SA Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO). Agreement is at an advanced stage in developing the first of a succession of qualifications for safety practitioners and safety professionals, led by MQA staff and MAQ consultant Ben Van As since last year.
The draft Occupational Safety Curriculum for Safety Representatives and Safety Practitioners (Advisors) is circulated among work group members. The MQA acts as a mining sector education and training authority, or mining Seta, and may appoint a training assessor, named assessment quality partner (AQP), on 6 March 2012.
The SA Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) had applied to the QCTO to be a Development Quality Partner (DQP) in establishing mining safety qualifications. The process requires high levels of resources, expertise, and the cost of hosting volunteer drafters.
SHEQafrica.com participated in two of the course drafting sessions that found agreement on theoretical, practical, experience and assessment components of the general Safety Advisor qualification that could standardise a three month diploma course, expected to replace the current general practice of various two week courses.
The next level qualification, Health and Safety Professional, could replace the current Unisa Nadsam that is being phased out. Any training body would be allowed to offer the new qualifications, but would have to register with the QCTO, and would be assessed by the AQP to be appointed by the MQA.
Safety Advisor training modules
Modules in the MQA-led qualification include occupational health and safety hazard identification, inspection, risk assessment and profile, conducting meetings, managing representatives, making presentations, management system components implementation and maintenance, induction training, coaching, emergency planning and response, incident reporting, and incident investigation.
The MQA invited several business sectors, including construction, chemicals and training, to participate in development of other qualifications relevant to mining, so that a curriculum could be developed to serve occupational health and safety learners and employers in all sectors.
SA Occupational qualifications framework
The new MQA qualifications will appear on the Organising Framework for Occupations (OFO), an occupational classification system, adopted by the SA Department of Higher Education and Training to ‘identify, report and monitor skills demand and supply in the South African labour market’.
A Safety Representative curriculum is unlikely to become a separate qualification, but a basic level curriculum has been set to link up into to a Safety Practitioner qualification, and ultimately to a Safety Professional qualification, or law degrees or management degrees with health and safety components.
The OFO is constructed by analysing jobs, identifying similarities in terms of tasks and skills, categorising similar jobs into occupations, and classifying occupations into occupational groups at increasing levels of generality, as reported on SHEQafrica.com early last year.
Eight major groups have been mapped, as posted by the OFO at www.nopf under website reference number 28-11-2011-0001;
3 Technicians and Associate Professionals
4 Clerical Support Workers
5 Service and Sales Workers
6 Skilled Agricultural, Forestry, Fishery, Craft and Related Trades Workers
7 Plant and Machine Operators and Assemblers
8 Labourers and Elementary Workers.
The National Qualifications Framework Act replaced the SA Qualifications Authority (SAQA) Act in 2008, introducing the QCTO.
Training institutions must apply to be listed as Accredited Providers of training. SETA and MQA Seta accredited training providers have to apply to the QCTO as Accredited Providers, regardless of their former status.
SA qualification development process
Qualifications should follow a development process, acted out by what the new regime terms Development Quality Partners (DQPs).
Safety qualification development follows eight steps; application, scoping, work group, consolidation, work group, verification, management, compilation, as detailed below. For full details, visit www.actsonline.co.za. The process is detailed below.
1 Qualification application and admin procedure.
2 Qualification scoping meeting. QCTO enters into a service level agreement with NQA development quality partners and assessment quality partners, to formulate an occupational qualification structure that is fit for purpose, fulfills industry requirements, and includes knowledge for at least 20% of the qualification, as well as practical skills or work experience for at least 60% of the qualification.
Occupational qualifications would be recognised as either a national occupational qualification of 120 credits or more, or a national occupation award of 25 to 119 credits. The latter is more skills based. Occupational qualifications could include more than one NQF level.
3 Qualification work group facilitation. Mining safety qualifications entered this step in 2011. An occupation profile is developed with the MQA as the Development Quality Partner, in conjunction with expert practitioners and assessors from various industries. The occupational profile has to be agreed by relevant business sectors.
4 Qualification consolidated and verified. DQP manages verification. Once the assessment quality partner is identified, the two bodies with expert practitioners verify the qualification development process.
5 Safety qualification work groups facilitation, for development of modules and subject specifications by quality development facilitators, with input from expert practitioners, the assessor, and educationalist.
6 Consolidate and verify a safety qualification. DQP manages the verification process with approval by other constituency groups representing relevant business sectors.
7 Manage a safety qualification process. QDF with expert practitioners, assessment quality partner and educationalists, develop assessment specifications in terms of OFO reference 28-11-2011-0001.
8 Safety qualification compilation. The qualification is submitted to QCTO to register on the SA National Qualifications Framework (NQF).
IoSM wants to be safety training assessor
The SA Institute of Safety Management (IoSM) had suggested itself as a QCTO assessment quality partner (AQP) for the new safety qualification, in a biased ‘options’ list that includes four IoSM front bodies, two construction bodies where IoSM has some influence, a statutory construction body that is developing its own registration process, a defunct financial auditing body, and a Seta that is in disarray;
• Institute of Safety Management, IoSM
• OHSAP [IoSM body]
• SAIOH [led by IoSM members and OHSAP supporters]
• SA Institute of Safety and Health, Saiosh [IoSM coastal breakaway, OHSAP aligned]
• Master Builders Association SA, MBASA
• Association of Construction Health and Safety Management, ACHASM
• SA Council for Project and Construction Management Professions, SACPCMP [statutory umbrella body]
• Risk Management Society of SA [former financial accounting body now part of IRMSA]
• Health and Welfare Seta, HWSETA.
SACPCMP is the only viable option on the list, due to general support in the construction industry, although it may limit its planned training standardisation and registration functions to construction. Probably all of the bodies named still lack the capacity to standardise, assess, develop, examine or register safety practitioners.
However, the MQA, in its capacity as SA mining Seta, could become the quality assessment partner for the new Safety Advisor qualification. At least three of the curriculum drafting volunteers have proposed that the MQA to fulfill this role.
The SA safety qualifications development work group includes IoSM representatives Joep Joubert and Delene Sheasby, both training consultants, a defence force member, Saiosh representatives Robin Jones and Harold Gaze, Master Builders Association Gauteng via Doug Michelle and a secundus, Irca, mining labour unions, and some major employers.
Master Builders Gauteng had in February restructured to become MBA North, representing MBA SA members in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.