Francois Smith, managing member of South Africa Academy for Occupational Health and Safety, Saacosh, commented; “Opportunities to raise competency, qualifications and certification of safety professionals in South Africa have been tragically missed for decades.
“The current Construction Regulations amendment draft is a classic case of ‘too little, too late’. Backlogs in the safety profession in SA are due to petty disagreements and attempted empire building that continue among practitioners, organisations, politicians and authorities.
“Our legislators now see a need to enforce some form of assurance of competency and professionalism. The Construction Regulations amendment draft testifies to a short sighted and myopic view of business and political roles” Smith commented.
“We should be able to rely on moral ethics and business objectives of practitioners and employers, including construction contractors, to self-regulate the profession so that the best candidates are skilled and appointed in the critical, influential and value-adding role of construction safety officers.
“Self regulation remains a far-fetched dream in South Africa as long as some of us advance and protect little power bases and self proclaimed expertise, instead of honestly and honourably improving our collective skills in the challenging and complex science of safety practice.
“We have brought the threat of state regulation on ourselves by allowing division and personal gain in professional matters”, said Smith.
“I believe we should first set and require the highest standard of professionalism at the top of our safety hierocracy, among legislators, inspectors, educators, trainers, authorities, politicians, advisors, industry leaders, and senior safety professionals.
“Following the required leadership, we should pool expertise, formulate appropriate standards, and train practitioners. Setting standards for our hierarchy and practice are among the roles we have neglected, and left to the state”, commented Smith.
“We have seen the skewed results of professional regulation in other professions.
“Each practitioner and employer should ensure his or her own competence and competitive edge, this is not a duty appropriate to a legislator or semi private association.
“We could learn from other safety communities around the world, like CPS, NEBOSH, SIA, IOSH, and ASSE. These professional communities are internationally recognised for self regulated safety certification, not enforced by a state”, Smith said.
PHOTO; SAACOSH founder Francois Smith is among the safety professionals opposing enforced registration of safety practitioners, proposed in the 2010 Construction Regulations amendment draft.