From the President’s desk: The building blocks for professionalising Construction H&S

It is not often that I dedicate an entire article to one topic, but with so much happening in the Construction Health and Safety (H&S) landscape, I feel it pertinent to answer a question I have been asked recently.

Is the collapse of buildings a reflection of the poor state of regulation of the construction industry?

Though the question arose out of the recent collapse of a residential property in Alberton, it was not directed at the poor state of health and safety on construction sites but rather at the fact that there are so many bodies regulating the construction industry. South Africa, has with its poor safety records, a poor health component of the term “Construction Health and Safety”.

There is no battle of regulators as far as Construction H&S is concerned. The regulatory environments for Construction H&S are well aligned and harmonised.

In June 2009, the CIDB published a report on the status of Construction H&S in SA. This report highlighted the significant number of accidents, fatalities and other injuries that are prevalent in the industry and made recommendations aimed at remedying this status.
SACPCMP President Eric Manchidi.

This was attributed to a lack of legislative compliance with requirements of occupational health and safety. It also signified a deficiency of effective management and supervision of H&S on construction sites.

The report highlighted the lack of sufficiently skilled, experienced and knowledgeable persons to manage H&S on sites. Most importantly, the report indicated that the absence of regulation has contributed to the lack of professionalism in H&S management, and recommended the need for a statutory body to regulate the profession.

The Council for the Built Environment (CBE) also conducted research on the state of H&S in SA. Findings indicated the deficiency of regulation in this area to be one of the fundamental reasons for the poor standards of H&S management.

In 2012 the Department of Labour signed a Construction Health and Safety Accord as a practical solution to improving the status of Construction H&S.

The Minister of Labour, on 10 February, launched the 2014 Construction Regulations, issued under section 43 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1993, to provide a legislative platform for addressing Construction H&S.

These regulations place responsibilities on clients to ensure that there are adequate controls, evaluation and monitoring of the levels of compliance with Construction H&S issues. The regulations place certain legal responsibilities on key stakeholders involved in projects.

The SACPCMP is mandated in terms of the 2014 Construction Regulations and Section 18 (2) of the Project and Construction Management Act (Act No. 48 of 2000), to register and regulate the Construction H&S disciplines.

The categories of registration include Professional Construction Health and Safety Agent (Pr CHSA); Construction Health and Safety Manager (CHSM); and Construction Health and Safety Officer (CHSO); and candidature categories for all three.

The logic of events clearly demonstrates that the building blocks for professionalising Construction H&S are in place and regulatory bodies are playing their roles.

Registration with the SACPCMP of the above mentioned categories of registration is  open. The deadline for commencement of enforcement is of 8 August 2015.

I therefore urge all potential applicants to apply now and not wait until the deadline looms. The SACPCMP’s doors are open to offer any assistance required with regard to your registration.
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