Posted on: April 9, 2012 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0 visitors’ comments ranged from an OHS skills drain, university OHS syllabus, training accessibility, and driver skills tests in early 2012.

Namibian mining health and safety skills drain

From Ferdi Gerstner, Namibia, Shali Mining safety manager; I feel like part of a dying breed. I found your article on bridging of skills between short courses and formal studies very significant.

Particularly here in Namibia, with demands in industry for safety specialists, and vast growth in mining, we will soon run out of health and safety manpower.

Safety practitioners, particularly with the experience, from the ‘old school’, are becoming very rare. New practitioners are far from ready for industry and its demands. This is sad, since industry is doing nothing to upgrade people in this field, or train them to any significant level.

I stumbled on your website and thoroughly enjoyed the reports, articles, views and blogs. I am hungry for more information on mining HSE training, and I support the SA MQA initiative in drafting the new OHS Practitioner curriculum standard.

Keep up your excellent work.

University OHS syllabus query and answers

From Chway Mtembu, via Sashef; I lecture OHS at a university in SA. I would like to know from people in industry, what do you think training institutions should focus on in an OHS syllabus, and what gaps in knowledge you find in school graduates and interns? editor replies via Sashef; Thank you for the opportunity to help to align tertiary training with practice in 2012. We thought you would never ask.

We trust that you, perhaps via the Council for Higher Education, would also initiate formal consultation with occupational sheq related authorities (DOL, DMR, Railway Safety Regulator), training councils (QCTO), Setas (MQA, HW), other universities (NMMU, UFS, Unisa), research bodies (NHLS), trainers and consultants, auditors, registrars (Sasohn, Saioh), professions (ECSA, IOD, SACPCMP, PMSA, RRA, RCMASA), employers (COM, MHSC, CAIA, PSF, Buildsafe SA) and membership bodies (Achasm, IWH, Saiosh, IoSM).

You may want to consider skills and training implications from public documents like annual reports by DOL, DMR, DOT, RSR, draft MQA /QCTO General OHS Practitioner curriculum standard of 2012, CAIA PSF circular on engineering curriculum elements to university faculties, NMMU safety practice opinions research papers, Sasohn and Saioh circulars on registration difficulties, and Institute of Directors guide on corporate governance.

Note the curriculum processes of centres of excellence overseas and in SA, like Cranefield and Unisa courses on explosives safety. However, some overseas ‘diplomas’ like Nebosh being advertised by licensees in South Africa, do not compare with our use of the term ‘diploma’, and remain rooted in European legislation and conditions.

An SA OHS Practitioner curriculum standard is being drafted by a group of specialists hosted by the MQA mining Seta, for registration with the QCTO in 2012.

This curriculum would soon be offered as a course by various training providers, and hopefully employers would then appoint holders of this qualification, instead of setting employment practice at the current level of a two week course.

This NQF Level 3, 4 and 5 course could become either entry level requirement, or part of prior learning for tertiary diploma or degree modules. University curricculi could adopt the same modules, and increase their levels, for example, from ‘incident investigation assistance’ to ‘conduct incident investigation’, from ‘implement emergency response plan’ to ‘draft emergency response plan’, and so on. See a draft text of the theoretical part of the new qualification on

Construction training requirements is set by a joint forum that includes SACPCMP, Achasm, CBE and others. They are listed with their mandate and aims, in a sheq organisations list on

Most industrial sectors have come to believe that university training had always been somewhat out of touch with practice, and more so in recent decades. Alignment of training to practice is fair in occupational health, inconsistent in environmental management, but poor to non-existent in occupational safety and general sheq practice.

Demand for tertiary diplomas and degrees in occupational safety and sheq risk management should increase after adoption of the OHS Practitioner curriculum standard. The current vacuum between two week courses and overseas degrees, is a bridge too far for our Cinderella practice. We wish you well in your initiative to align university training to industry needs.

SHEQ training query

From Andrew; What a schlep I had to find a SAQA recognised course in SHEQ, not to mention a diploma course!

I am very well qualified, but not in a technical field, and I need to change that fast, but what a mission.
It seems that I would have to drive and consult somebody at Nosa, a further waste of my time and money.

UNISA, sadly, is not up to scratch any more, and the reasons therefore should be answered at some stage by some responsible person, which I guess would never happen.

Former editor replies; Career planning is not done in a day, since our practice is multi disciplinary, and there are major skills differences in the requirements in some sectors.

Some calls to employers and HR people, measured against the training time and budget that you are prepared to invest, and a call to any one of the major sheq occupational training providers should narrow down your choice to four or five training courses.

You could compare training schedules, specialities (generalist, safety, health, enviro, quality, behaviour, culture, legislation, systems, ISO, mining, construction, petrochem) and advice from Irca, Dekra, Saacosh, Nosa, Lexis Nexis, Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA), or for construction safety training try Nelson Mandela Metro University (NMMU).
The ultimate registration query

From Bob; After reading all the issues in respect of [membership] registration of Occupational Health, Safety and Environment professionals, I would like to know where I could register as a professional, what are the minimum qualifications, minimum CPD points required per year, and what is the professional rate per consultation or per hour?

Former editor replies; There is no legally required sheq or occupational safety registration mechanism in South Africa. To practice occupational hygiene, health nursing or medicine, join Saioh or Sasohn.

Environmental managers are developing their own body with international links. If you have a degree or diploma in safety management, join the USA based ASSE.

In construction OHS, a registration process is being formulated by the SACPCMP. Auditors have a choice of two bodies to join, where some continued professional development mechanisms are in place, as reported on

General sheq practitioners could join IoSM or Saiosh, but they offer only membership grades, limited advantages in terms of networking, and no guarantee of better payment. Spend your time and money on further training instead.

Employers are impressed by qualifications, and most short courses offer practical modules as well as work experience modules. In addition, registered trainers could assess your prior learning, and assist your career path planning.

Your consulting rate should depend on your qualifications, experience, and track record. These rates are highly divergent. Note that many large employers prefer consultants from overseas, who are members of ASSE, where a range of membership levels are offered. SHEQ does not operate on a ‘ticket’ basis.

Driver simulator test query

From Koos Dafel; About the driver testing query, appoint the right people as drivers. In terms of fluid intelligence, I would have loved to test you drivers, just to prove a point, or go to the nearest vendor who can do Vienna Dover Testing and you will find that they don’t have the hand eye co-ordination OR depth perception to drive.

Pick any three drivers whom have had an accident the past 6 months and you will see why they crashed your vehicles.

Vienna Dover is a pre requisite to drive a vehicle on most mines. More than 80% of drivers with code 10 licences fail Vienna Dover tests and should not be driving occupational vehicles.

DOL conference disappointment

From DM; At the major SA Department of Labour conference in March, we were asked for a commitment by companies and managements to DOL on compliance, but the Labour minister did not show up to meet us, the DDG was not there, and the DG left early. The Business Unity SA presenter did not show up. Disappointing.


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