SHEQafrica.com receives a wide range of queries, some readily answered or referred to appropriate legislation, authority or specialists, some sparking debate.
Visitors are welcome to respond, add hot topic themes, or start a discussion in the COMMENT window below this post.
Below follows a sample of queries and topical themes in African sheq practice, followed by an extract from a leading international HSE discussion forum.
OHS practice registration query
From Livion Monareng; What is the latest news regarding registration of SHE professionals [OHS practitioners] in South Africa? Could emplyers or clients via supply chain requirements, demand registration for jobs, tenders, or quotations?
Former editor replies; There is no legal or best practice requirement or recommendation for registration or voluntary membership of OHS practitioners in SA.
Employers must check qualifications and experience of appointees as part of their general duties under various Acts. SAQA NLRD offers a qualifications check and rating service (see report on overseas qualifications on SHEQafrica.com).
The construction sector is debating variuos formats for OHS practice standardisation, that may eventually involve registration with a body to have some statutory power delegated from SACPCMP.
The next step up in OHS practice in SA would be a three month OHS Advisor diploma, for which the curriculum is currently being written by a forum hosted by MQA. The qualification would be registered with the QCTO, and registered training providers would offer courses based on the curriculum standard.
Many OHS practitioners and labour unions oppose private initiatives to get OHS practice registration written into legislation, since the practice is multi disciplinary, and registrars tend to become bsarriers to entry and elite cliques that charge high fees in return for negligible service.
A SAQA policy on professionalisation would force existing and future registrars to prove general support in their fields, of practice, and to render fair service in continued professional development, representation, and a host of other functions. -SHEQafrica.com editor, SHEQafrica
Cell towers standard query
From anonymous; Which standards apply to radio, cellphone, wi-fi, microwave masts, regarding siting, testing and certification?
SABS responds; Cell tower standards depend on the requirement of the client. Unless a standard is referenced in legislation or regulation, testing or certification is voluntary.
Game abattoir query
From Karien van Heerden; We want to open a slaughter facility for game (antelope) in Limpopo. What are the regulations and standards that we should meet and whom should we contact to inspect the facility before we may sell our product to supermarkets?
Dilapidated buildings and fire hazard
From JM Kannemeyer; Tenants living at Clarendon Court, 162 Eastwood Street, Arcadia, Pretoria, are worried about serious dilapidation to these buildings. The buildings date from 1929 and have Heritage status.
Midcity is supposed to do maintenance but nothing has been done. Leaking roofs, blocked drainpipes, empty fire extinguisher boxes, dry rot and unearted electdical wires are the order of the day. Which authorities deal with these issues?
Need basic sheq info
From logisitics official, Haupt Feldtmann; I am new to sheq and will hopefully soon go on a two week course. Where do I start to get basic information in this field?
Many people at work are highly qualified and when they start talking about sheq thing I have no idea what they mean. Is there somewhere I can find free information on this subject?
Former editor replies; You could read the 30 most recent reports on SHEQafrica.com, note down legislation and standards relevant to your business sector, get copies of those documents, and ask state authorities, organised business and labour institutes relevant to your industry and your clients, for resources and preferred qualifications.
For example, in logistics, contact the Road Freight Association and related organisations. In Chemicals, contact CAIA. In mining, contact the Chamber of Mines and MQA. Google for terms like ‘sheq South Africa’ and add other terms that you need explained.
Diploma training query
From Zander; I have done a Samtrac course, but cannot find a job. Employers require a diploma or degree in OHS. With the Diploma Safety Management (Nadsam) and BTech SM being phased out, the only Diploma one can do is Nebosh. Any other suggestions?
Former editor replies; Nebosh is not a diploma in the South African sense of the term. It is a one month course. See two reports on this theme on SHEQafrica.com.
SHEQ courses query
From Frank; I wish to study to become a safety practitioner. What courses would I need to take and where could I take these by correspondence.
Former editor replies; The MQA is writing a general Occupational Health and Safety Advisor qualification and curriculum standard, to be registered at the QCTO, and adopted by registered training providers.
If your employer or yourself prefer a compliance approach, explore the University of the Free State and Irca law degree with health and safety modules, named Riskmaq
If you prefer a business administration approach, explore the Unisa BCom degree or diploma that includes safety modules.
If you prefer a behavioural and integrative approach, explore forthcoming Expectra and University of Stellenbosch external Business School managerial courses.
If your employer or yourself have a specific sector in mind, select relevant short courses at registered specialist training providers that offer unit standard points. Round off your training by attending a conference that is narrowly focussed on your chosen sheq practice application.
Safety officers grading query
From Dhashika, at a demolition company; Is there a grading system for safety officers?
SHEQafrica.com editor replies; The OHS Act and Mine HS Act describe health and safety appointments, and Construction Regulations describe safety roles, that could be used as a basis for grading safety officials’ positions. The trend in South Africa is to use the term Safety advisor, ad practitioner level, and Safety Professional, at tertiary level.
Most employers appoint safety representatives and safety advisors according to job specialities like occupational health, hygiene, safety, process safety or transport safety. Leading employers may also appoint a risk manager and a board safety champion.
Training levels could be used for grading, based on cumulative length of courses, like number of days, weeks, months or years, or based on qualifications, like informal, Seta registered, diploma, or degree.
Employers could use safety experience levels for grading, in addition to training and appointment levels, in line with their HR policies. Due to the generally low level of safety qualifications among practitioners, employers could take into account relevant experience in production, supervision and other aspects of sheq management, like occupational health, hygiene, environmental impact, quality management and auditing.
Voluntary professional bodies like he American Society of Safety Engineers, ASSE, offer membership levels based on training and experience, like student, practicioner, proffessional, and so on.
The value of grading or recognition of prior learning (RPL) by private or semi private membership bodies and so-called registrars in the current South African and African safety practice context is doubtful (see other opinions below).
Safety is a multi disciplinary practice. Different sectors, sites and jobs may require widely different skills from safety advisors, like training, coaching, performance measurement, system maintenance, interventions programmes, wellness, or procedures overhaul.
‘Registered OHS professional’ could not do RA
From KC, construction sheq manager in Botswana; We employed a safety practitioner on site who is a ‘ROSH Prof’ registered with IoSM [Ohsap]. He could not do a risk assessment. He did not know how to. Health and safety registration is useless to me as employer of health and safety officers.
Construction HS officer registration uncertain
An SACPCMP newsletter of 2011 contains a report by construction safety academic Prof John Smallwood that mentions that construction officer ‘registration’ was to start in October 2011, but that it was postponed due to ongoing development.
Many sheq practitioners are concerned that SACPCMP and related statutory construction bodies have created a construction safety registrar in Achasm, supported by a technical committee that favours Ohsap representatives.
SACPCMP and DOL, who serve on the technical committee, claim to have been ‘consulting general sheq pracititoners’, on false premises of having ‘competing’ and ‘representative’ sheq bodies on this committee, while only prospective registrars, who sponsored a defunct Construction Regulations amendment, were consulted.
Quasi government ‘registration’ is no solution
From David G Broadbent, safety psychologist, Australia; I suspect that regulation [for professional registration] is just an opportunity for a few bodies to make money.
See the June 2011 edition of ‘A Second on Safety’ via my website [TransformationalSafety.com] to see the potential for corrupt behaviour within ‘regulation’.
It is more important to have a functional and recognised methodolgy for developing competencies, to produce decent safety practitioners.
In the USA they have CSP and ASSE, in the UK there is IOSH, and here in Australia there is SIA. All of these have their own issues, but they promote a baseline level of competency and act as a beacon for the profession.
Privatised registration is not a solution, but leaving registration rules in the hands of a quasi government body is worse.
International sheq discussions
Themes of discussion on international web forums like Linkedin EHSQ Elite, reveal current issues at the coalface of development in health and safety practice and professions. Below is a sample of web forum themes and contributions made in February 2012.
• Health and safety information and guidance should be free, please post links to any useful free HSE publications.
• Enough about incident causation models, let us discuss safety solution models. What are critical factors and activities to do and measure to create safe production and service?
• Sucking up is not in my job description either. I expect and encourage disagreement and critical comments from my [superiors and colleagues]
• Is the concept of a zero accident culture practical and realistic, or is it rhetorical sound bite safety management? Thread stared by Wayne Pardy. Response from Cary Usrey; As a safety professional, I hate when organisations measure safety by failures and not by accomplishments.
• Safety compliance sucks, thread started by Marie-Claire Ross. Response by Carsten Busch; That MPs comments are in relation with the compensation culture and unnecessary bureaucracy around OHS at work.
• Emergency Management Performance standard ISO 50001.
• Ergonomic and safe chairs.
• Skin diseases from handling cement products.
• Some group forums value opinion over fact.
• Productivity advancement has downsides.
• A popular marketing piece touts injury predictability and ‘four truths’ of safety at http://tinyurl.com/6plp73b. It strikes me that ‘Truth 2’ argues against safety pros.
• Culture change takes revolution, not platitudes.
• Good safety leaders do not… Complete this sentence.
Sources; SHEQafrica.com, Linkedin EHSQ Elite.