Safety registration opponents ask Minister

Opponents to proposed compulsory safety registration of construction safety practitioners, have asked the Minister of Labour to review a phrase in a draft amendment.

The comment period in response to the Construction Regulations Amendment 2010 draft, ends on 11 July 2010. had compiled comments received from opponents to the provision, and submitted a motivation to the Minister, via the Chief Inspector of Labour, Thobile Lamati. The text follows below.

Dear Minister of Labour, we request that the phrase in the draft definition of ‘occupational safety practitioner’, providing for registration of safety practitioners (‘and register with a body..’) , be deleted, for reasons motivated below.

1 Proponents of registration have divergent aims, including funding, membership expansion, functional expansion, standardisation, reduction of responsibility and liability for H&S management, and other aims.

2 Most of these aims do not serve the greater interest of construction safety skills development, nor safety practice. The two or three current registration schemes have either failed to serve the construction industry, or the safety profession, for ten years, or are newly formed in 2009, and of low capacity. These schemes should all remain voluntary, and not sanctioned in law.

3 Opponents of safety registration have divergent aims, including principles regarding deficient legislation, deficient training provision, costs, privatisation of state functions, monopolization by two or three registration schemes linked to membership bodies, non transparency of IoSM /OHSAP /SASIOSH /ACHASM, lack of practicality, lack of international affiliation, lack of resources, and poor track record of professional registration in minority professions, for example, in the security industry.

4 Opponents are united in rejection of the minority organisations arising to fulfill a function that is not perceived to be a professional priority, while professional priorities, like training standards and training standardisation, are state functions. We oppose some aspects of the amendment draft, and also oppose many aspects of IoSM /OSAP /SAIOHS /ACHASM.

5 Agents, whose proposed functions are H&S Agents, may be subject to the draft registration provision, or become subject to the draft registration provision. Agents are not directly implied in the draft, and have not been consulted.

6 Safety practitioners and H&S agents outside construction are not directly implied in the draft, yet are threatened by monopolisation of registration by IoSM /OHSAP and construction cum registration bodies.

7 Opponents to enforced registration as drafted, and to IoSM /OHSAP /Ray Strydom /SAIOSH /ACHASM initiatives, include skilled, experienced, and influential occupational health and safety practitioners, consultants, auditors, and training providers. These opponents include;

Ben Fouche
Christel Fouche
Cobus Schoeman
Emile Tredoux
Enoch Masango
Esther Wiltshire
Francois Smith
Jabu Bolokega
Manie Mulder
Natalie Skeepers
Paul Tredoux
Philip Gerber
Pieter Oosthuizen
Ronelle Isaacs
Terence Barnard
Vicky McKay
and others who wish to remain anonymous
and (H&S) Agents who are not directly implied in the draft
and H&S practitioners outside construction

Below are some comments in support of the motivations above.

== Natalie Skeepers, Transnet safety manager;

Definition of ‘occupational safety practitioner’ raises questions about which qualifications would be deemed sufficient.

Who is the certification body intended in the draft legislation? Is it known and accepted by the state, business, academia, and the profession?

The draft poses an infringement of rights, by exclusion of some practitioners.

Since Ray Strydom and IoSM, a small and formerly exclusive body, developed a registration body and prompted legislation, the legislator seems to want us to be re-examined by certain people, or to join certain preconceived bodies.

We have no experience of the rumoured registration body, OHSAP, and we do not know how if this body works in the interest of safety practice or the profession.

DOL should reconsider all aspects of the registration initiative, and investigation [technical committee] initiative, in the draft.

There are many gaps in the draft, which is a subordinate legislation. This should be corrected in the OHS Act, to clear ambiguity among industrial sectors.

There were several attempts to unify the profession, but there were always rifts and personal agendas.

The state does not have the capacity to manage or police the profession. Nor do any private bodies that I know of. Sadly, nor do any state education providers or training authorities.

I will not be dictated to by a private registration body. I have knowledge, skills and qualifications for my job.

The OHSAP and advisory council initiative is devoid of leadership, consultation, trust, and consensus, and at best indicates flaws in our education and training system, but could not fix those flaws with supposed ‘grading’ and ‘registration’.

The draft for registration is like an aircraft taking off without a flight plan or a map.

== Ronele Isaacs, SA Mint safety manager

How could legal sanction for a scheme and an agenda like this have gone unchallenged? There was no consultation with safety practitioners.

The legislator had clearly not considered current SAQA qualifications relevant to the Construction Regulations. No practitioners in South Africa could assess my abilities, for example, as a practitioner, against non existing unit standards.

We must speak out against this proposed regulation and strangulation of our profession by a few apparently empowered people. We should not hand over regulatory powers by our silence.

We do not trust the proposed registration body to dictate the direction the safety profession. I understand that the legislation may offer an opportunity to anyone to set up a registration body, register with SANAS, and start charging fees, but the process was all wrong.

We do not accept the Construction Regulations amendment draft of 2010. The OHS Act does not outline the role and requirements of safety practitioners.

Professional registration must not be sneaked through the back door of the Act by an ill conceived amendment in the Construction Regulations.

== Pieter Oosthuizen, Bateman Engineering Projects HS&E officer

I have raised many questions and concerns on various forums and workshops, where the establishment of a regulator body was discussed, on behalf of major project management houses.

The presenters said they ‘took note and would respond’, but I have received no responses, and a deafening silence from the Department of Labour.

I also raised the question about the ‘Ray Strydom factor’, noting that IoSM ring leaders and mates were first to ‘grade and register’ with Ray Strydom. Afterwards a drive was launched to recruit members to register in anticipation of the new ‘legal requirement’ driven by Ray Strydom, before he left IoSM and to head the so-called accreditation body, using his resources, to gain a retirement ‘package’.

I put it to IoSM that they did not have the required experience or knowledge to judge competency of safety professionals or practitioners, due to the wide range of construction activities. I agree with other objectors that it is almost impossible to judge competency by a single system of evaluation.

The state is sanctioning a system to regulate construction safety practice, and presumably soon all safety practice, by a single mechanism. This sanction takes us back to the historic national Nosa system and grading syndrome, while most large operators work internationally, incorporating various standards, legislations, best practice and corporate codes into SHEQ management

Most of these are not even incorporated into SAQA unit standards yet. I fail to see how a private grading scheme would help industry. We experience an ongoing fiasco with registration of construction managers and supervisors, due to the same misguided impulse to ‘regulate standards’.

Employers are keenly aware of differences in SHEQ practice and experience between construction, mining, petrochemicals, offshore, marine, manufacturing and other industries, despite commonalities in HSE short courses.

Some SHEQ professionals and practitioners are certified auditors, already paying annual registration fees, while employers or themselves are funding their studies, that usually involve assessments for recognition of prior learning (RPL).

The state wants us to pay yet another fee for the doubtful privilege of yet another assessment, grading, registration, and regular re-grading to the ‘levels’ of a scheme like OHSAP. This is not acceptable to industry.

Our industry recommendation is for the Sectoral Education and Training Authorities, Setas, to keep registers of HSE practitioners, based on qualifications and experience, by a standard set of criteria.

The state needs such figures in any event, and the Setas are already tasked to assess general training levels and assure training standards.

We support regulation of the profession via Setas, but not as recommended in the Construction Regulations amendment draft.

Control of required competency skills in the HSE professions is necessary, but that control should be of training providers, not of HSE practitioners. Only registered and accredited training should be accepted, as recognised by SAQA, thus the level of competency is assured.

Competency is obtained in various courses. Proposed registrations of OHSAP, like ROS Prof, ROS Prac and ROS Cord, do not reflect or address standards of competency.

==  Francois Smith, managing member of Saacosh;

Safety practitioners around the world, like CPS, NEBOSH, SIA, IOSH, and ASSE, are internationally recognised for self regulated safety certification, not enforced by a state.

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.

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….

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…

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.

== Manie Mulder, a former SA Labour Department chief inspector;

Certification of health and safety professionals in all sectors is a good idea, but would founder in disagreement among government departments.

The Construction Regulations amendment drat appears to be open-ended, and may create more confusion and raise more questions than it would solve… Unfortunately, in my opinion, the amendments probably do not go far enough.

When I was chief inspector, the idea was to create a national statutory body under the auspices of the Department of Labour to oversee and regulate qualifications, certification and accreditation of health and safety professionals.

This idea was mooted in South Africa long before the establishment of the British National Examination Board for Health and Safety (NEBOSH).

Unfortunately the idea perished in South Africa due to politics, inter departmental disagreements, and objections from various quarters, notably at the time from NOSA, BIFSA, and the Chamber of Mines. There are also divergent interests among various persons and organisations… the Department may have to establish an authority..

== Christel Fouche, MD of Advantage ACT

The draft relies on SANAS to ensure a proposed safety practitioner registration, raising the option of SANAS or SAATCA as practitioner registration body instead, to keep a register of health and safety practitioners in return for registration fees.

SANAS currently accredits laboratories and inspection authorities, but the draft legislation introduces the role of accrediting a practitioner grading and registration scheme. Under which category did OHSAP apply for accreditation?

OHSAP said it would aim to certify safety practitioners against SAQA standards, yet OHSAP is not experienced in training provision.

There are currently very few SAQA registered unit standards, and very few SAQA registered courses.

The SETAs and SAQA are restructuring yet again. Why base new regulations on a framework with a reputation for slow delivery and changing goalposts?

== Emile Tredoux, construction official

Some professional registration schemes are mere collectors of fees, adding little value to training, standards, status, or service in their sectors.

I mainly operate oversees, and I have no idea who Ray Strydom is. I wanted to join IoSM, but decided against it because I realised it was another paper scheme to ‘accredit’ what I had already studied and paid for to be accredited.

Consider the private security industry registration body, or tourism body, or construction managers and supervisors registrar; they supposedly regulate, but actually only collect fees, without improving training or the sector or individual competency.

I already have ‘papers’ for what I do. OHSAP does not have experience and knowledge to judge my competency, due to the range of construction activities. It is near impossible to judge competency by a single system of evaluation.

DOL is a rubber stamp to the registration initiative… Safety practitioner registration is definitely unwanted at this time, there is no need for this in the format as proposed.

Seta registers should be the database of the profession, with all the benefits of a central register. This is all we need, no additional regulation.

We oppose the Construction Regulations amendment draft, since it would benefit only certain persons, and not the profession or the sector.

== Paul Tredoux;
…This process that is fundamentally flawed. You “urge” our “minority group” to understand your reasons and process, (this) confirms many people’s problem with the OHSAP process… If the process were transparent, why the resistance?

== Anonymous, construction sector;
…I propose a training review at all levels to ensure practitioners with tertiary qualifications. Current qualifications are elitist and we are at risk of alienating excellent safety officers who would not be able to complete a BComm due to their background, or problems with economics or accounting.

== Rob Allcock, certificated engineer;
DOL should certificate health and safety practitioners, as they do for certificated engineers… follow the already established routes in the OHS Act. Why require two different systems of establishing competency in one Act?…

== Esther Wiltshire, Nedan quality manager,
Please consider setting up a petition portal or page on your website where individuals could sign on with contact details, to log a mass protest against this blatant nepotism and corruption. Thank you for informing us, the daily grind keeps us from investigating concept regulations.

== Jabu Bolokega, or
I am totally opposed to this draft. What about the safety practitioners who were trained by the likes of Lexis Nexis?

== Enoch Masango, Sasol Polythene SHE officer;

IoSM and affiliate organisations have for many years tried to set themselves up to become that body, on racist and sexist lines. Little was done to involve previously disadvantaged people. They ignored our presence during some meetings, and many of us never returned.

It was obvious that IoSM would never be our home… stop the self-enriching imposition of some people on our profession.

Keep provisions for a regulating body out of the Construction Regulations amendment draft until we speak with one voice.

Previous attempts to bring previously disadvantaged professionals together in a forum, were prophetic.

== Ben Fouche,
If these changes go through, it may be possible to regulate the whole health and safety profession on the basis of a few words in a definition in the Construction Regulations. Should health and safety practitioners outside construction also be concerned about the implications?

== Kristina Miller,
I agree with Ben… after checking on the OHSAP exam requirements and professional development measures.

== Terence Barnard,
Philip Fourie was a member of the NOSA board of directors that persisted in appointing incompetent CEOs until it went bankrupt. Micromega welcomed the cheap opportunity to ‘privatise’ a national asset. Mr Fourie is also a board member of the split and irrelevant Institute of Safety Management, IoSM. Now it seems he’s fronting for Ray Strydom. God help our profession!

== Vicky McKay, Cape Town,
Philip’s comment about “Ray’s 600 big safety family”, that sounds to me like a mafia.

== Philip Gerber, Telkom SHE practitioner,
I heard about IoSM [later OHSAP] a few years ago and contacted them with a view to joining. I was told that I had to sit a three hour exam as well as write a thesis of a few thousand words. After qualifying for a BTech a few years ago… as well as submitting a Project Proposal for evaluation in my final year, I found this IoSM requirement absurd… with 18 years experience in the SHE industry…

== Cobus Schoeman,
After reading comments by a supporter of the registration body, all I could says is ‘Ray Strydom One, transparent OHS institutions Zero’.

== SHEQafrica, editor
Safety practitioners who are proponents of enforced registration via two or three schemes, are leading IoSM members, or former exec members, including Ray Strydom, Neels Nortje, Wilna Louw-Malan, Philip Fourie, Joep Joubert. They serve organisations founded or run by themselves, including SFA, IoSM, OHSAP, NOSHBO, SAIOSH, and a Professional Development Board under various names.

== Supporters of registration

== Robin Jones, Saiohs president, or

The Branch Committee of IoSM Coastal Branch stood down for re-election at the Branch AGM due to a lack of confidence in the affairs and administration of IoSM at National level.

Our decision was reached after failed discussions and interaction with IoSM executive lasting over the last two years or so.

We started our own organisation and members of IoSM are joining us. Persons wishing to become full members are required to meet our registration process of qualifications and experience.

== Prasa operational safety officer Sunnyboy Nhlapho;

DOL must be strengthened to lead safety once more. Major incidents are not followed up and prosecution is non existent. Salaries are so low that they draw only students as inspectors. All in all safety of employees is not important to society. We need labour movements on board to stop the carnage.

PHOTO; SA Minsiter of Labour, Membathisi Mdladlana.

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