Some health and safety practitioners support a Construction Regulations amendment draft on construction safety registration, but differ on which body should do it.
Supporters of the daft also diverge on the roles that training standards should play in improving the level of practice in the construction and general safety profession.
Prasa operational safety officer Sunnyboy Nhlapho commented; “The Department of Labour 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.”
ACOHS includes BUSA
Neels Nortje, H&S manager at the Master Builders Association in KwaZulu-Natal, who serves on the Minister of Labour’s Advisory Council for Occupational Health and Safety (ACOHS), representing Business Unity (BUSA), commented that “individual or group interests did not sway the advisory council, nor the draft wording, and that the council represented relevant interests”. Nortje is a former IoSM president.
[UPDATE 2017: Neels Nortje had resigned from Master Builders KZN, to run the IOSH SA /SAIOSH office, assited by his wife.]
Safety qualifications too easy
A Sasol SHEQ officer, Celeste Fourie, commented; “Setting high employment standards would be an excellent measure, since some safety practitioners pass only Samtrac, which is totally insufficient.
“Qualifications in safety management have become an easy way to a job for many people, and student figures increase, since they are assisted throughout their studies to ensure that a certain number pass.
“If a SANAS accredited board should review safety professionals, and if it is not also fraudulent, that should minimise the stigma attached to being a safety practitioner and place us on par with other professions that separate competent and incompetent employees.”
BComm Safety is ‘elitist’
A construction sector official, who had participated in several industry forums, commented that safety officers should be defined in the new OHS Act, and safety practitioners in all sectors should be registered by a state body.
“Wording in should be similar to that of medical professionals, registered with a professional council, established by an Act of Parliament. This would force government to take safety seriously and to ensure standardised registration, keeping the influence of individual personalities at bay,” said the official.
“Regarding the definition of a construction site, it should include construction sites at mines, where the OHS Act should apply. There is some argument as to which Act should apply on these sites.”
The new method of tertiary education for safety professionals was not in line with many employers’ training objectives, since the Diploma in Safety Management was suspended.
“We are left with only a BComm in Safety Management. Many students struggle with current work in the Diploma, and are not able to further their studies.”
The official proposed 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.”