Has health and safety registration dust settled?

Ken Strang; “After the registration dust has settled, it appears that ACHASM would be testing only construction health and safety officers, in one catergory?

“Likewise SAIOSH? It appears that IoSM [via OHSAP] is capable of testing and registering in various catergories of industry, and at three different levels of expertise. Am I missing something?” -Ken Strang (from Comment window on a recent news post on SHEQafrica.com; ‘Construction H&S ‘registration’ battles’)

Registration dust not settled

SHEQafrica.com editor SHEQafrica responds; Thank you for your comment and query, continuing your comments on this theme from last year.

Achasm said they planned to register construction health and safety practitioners on different levels, relevant to statutory construction functions.

Their service would involve an annual fee, ongoing RPL and CPD, and each upgrade would involve a re-assessment or exam.

Saiosh is ‘registering’ general HS practitioners, in any sector, at different levels, aiming to serve all sectors. Saiosh is not limiting itself to construction, although it also relies on a short, disputed phrase that appeared in a draft Construction Regulations amendment, rumoured to be on track for being pushed through the DOL ACHOS in the last quarter of 2011, by three construction specialists, one of whom is a ‘registrar’ and another being aligned with a ‘registrar’.

SHEQ registrars ‘willing and ‘able’

Ohsap is doing likewise, registering HS practitioners on three levels. Your phrase ‘capable of testing’ involves huge development costs and inputs into capacity and institutional development, which are the bones of contention.

‘Registering’ is a statutory function for which no statute yet exists. For insight into the gulf that separates prospective registrars from bodies like the USA based ASSE and the Australian equivalent, see their large manuals, summarising other large manuals, governing professionalisation, assessment, quality assurance, RPL, CPD, representation, advocacy and related functions of these international professional memership bodies.

The future of South African sheq practice self organisation remains obscured in a cloud of sectoral fragmentation, fossil organisations, skeletal organisations, hidden agendas, and massive start-up costs involving hiring of training and sectoral consultants to formulate fucntions, write practice standards, forms, addenda and similar missing components, which leading practitioenrs had developed for their own use.

SHEQ registration costs would be huge, continuous

These sheq practice elements are not to be had free of charge, and none of the prospective registrars have the capacity or intention to render any services free of charge. In fact, some institutional functions seem almost tailor made for registrars on white horses, or white elephants, to be maintained by members wanting only to improve their employment opportunities.

It is revealing that construction employers, or general sheq employers, have not committed themselves to paying for practitioner registration, and most, including most constrution employers, are not pledged to assist sheq paractitioners wtih training costs.

Registration could be a tickbox hurdle

The Department of Labour seems resolved to pass on occupational health and safety standardisation costs to sheq practitioners, instead of developing practicable legislation, including the functions, forms and addenda that come standard with similar legislation in Europe and elsewhere.

The result could be more elaborate compliance tickbox exercises, while ironically, Achasm says it aims to replace compliance tickbox exercises in construction health and safety.

I expect that ‘independent’ training to be sanctioned by our prospecltive registrars, and their ‘impartial; exams, would add yet another layer of compliance and cost that employers would find ways to ‘comply’ to, while sheq legislation and sheq practice continue drifting apart. Dust tends to settle on useless compliance documents.

SHEQ compliance paper tiger in USA

I find some optimism in revelations that South Africa is not alone in misplacing its sheq trust on complianice procedures, instead of training and corporate governance.

Note that in the USA, West Virginia, Upper Big Branch coal mine, the official investigation into a disaster had found that enforcement was lacking, compliance was a paper exercise, while managers and health and safety officials had kept two sets of sheq documents, one that they considered ‘real’ and one for reporting and inspection purposes (see a blog on this event by David Broadbent on SHEQafrica.com).

Industry is perpetually at risk of compliance mentatlity. Registration backed by legislation, would be a major step in the wrong direction. – SHEQafrica

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