OHSAP safety registration would standardise salaries and professional rates, writes IoSM OSPC chairperson Joep Joubert in support of the disputed scheme.
OHSAP is under criticism from SHEQ practitioners and construction bodies for standing to gain sanction in a Construction Regulations amendment, while assuming SHEQ professional functions it has no other mandate or consensus for.
OHSAP registration would “have a ‘roll over effect’ from construction to other industries”, writes IoSM Occupational Safety Professional Council (OSPC) chairperson, Joep Joubert, in a circular to IoSM members in July 2010.
The OSPC writes that OHSAP was;
-Formed due to a DOL request to [SAQA SGB] “technical committee 8” in 1993, working to 1995, “to investigate and improve professionalism of OHS practitioners”. IoSM and OSPC members served and chaired on the official committee. Yet the DOL brief was not to form a registration body, and the profession at large was not consulted nor informed of the outcome.
-“Active since 1998”. However, OHSAP was poorly supported until IoSM /OSPC spread rumours about imminent promulgation, many months before the short phrase in a definition in an amendment, was published for public comment. IoSM had encountered opposition the scheme at conferences for many years.
-Supported by “input from SAIOH”. In fact, SAIOH had queried some OHSAP and IoSM administrative aspects.
Case for registration
The OSPC argues in the IoSM circular that OHSAP registration would;
-“Set standards”. However, OHSAP has no mandate in legislation or consensus to standardise anything, outside its own membership structure.
-“Ensure OHS practice capability… ensure quality service in construction safety”. However, OHSAP is not a recognised construction body, and some of the 15 odd construction bodies insist on sector specific authorities.
-“Slowly raise professionalism… Prove that a practitioner was willing to accept responsibility… Enable employers to judge capacity and competence.”
-“Standardise salaries and professional rates.” Recent informal enquiries by a safety practitioner and a junior academic, via SHEQ forums like SHEQafrica.com and a Sashef Facebook page, have drawn few responses.
-“Be accredited via SANAS, to ISO 17024.” However, SANAS is not relevant to practitioner registration bodies, while in terms of several pieces of skills legislation, certain SAQA structures would be relevant to registration accreditation.
-“Be better than no registration.” However, some practitioners fear that a flawed registration process would perpetually divide and hamper the profession.
-“Welcome constructive comments.” However, IoSM /OSPC /OHSAP remain small organisations, hinged around Ray Strydom, notorious for repelling criticism and dissent. The IoSM Coastal branch executive broke to form SAIOSH, citing stalling and lack of response to their concerns with IoSM management.
Among the other assertions in the OSPC circular, are that “AIA processes are working satisfactorily.” Yet some AIA processes and functions are queried by construction bodies, the more so in the context of the proposed amendment.
OSPC wrote that “No other body was willing to establish a registration process”. However, in recent months SAFSEC and ACHASM were at various stages of establishing registration bodies, and the IoSM breakaway SAIOSH supports the principle, although the SAIOSH president said they had not tabled the matter of which registration body to support.