NIOCCSA Calls for co-operation

The National Institute of Compliance Consultants of SA (NIOCCSA) recently published its intended Nationa Co-operative Framework which is aimed at bringing a closer net around unethical conduct by practitioners in the consulting industry.

In the hope of receiving feedback of value from the Health & Safety professionals, the comments generally revolved around the latest addition to the HSE Circus, Koos Dunvenhage, who, despite of adding a fair amount of spectators, managed to bring all readers off track and the entire message were lost in frustration.

NIOCCSA, who has earmarked sheqafrica.com for their marketing drive, have recently halted their plans and are seeking alternative solutions to promote their efforts.

It is said that history repeats itself, and NIOCCSA seem to be on the same path as a previous body, IPCSA, led by ex-ILO team leader for labour matters, Dr. Lindi Alberts, who eventually withdrew from the scene under a cloud of apologies. What is clear is that HSE practitioners are generally uneducated with little strategic thinking, and still has a long road ahead of them before breaking into the professional arena. With the demise of the W2Q Program the Agency was to start in 2014, there are little hope for any HSE Practitioner to make it to the rankings NIOCCSA has set in the initial Framework document. The Institute of Safety Management are already out of the runnings, and it has been reported that SAIOSH could end up in conflict with SAQA.

Given the history in South Africa’s Consumer Protection Regime, the HSE profession seriously need to reconsider their resistance to self-regulation, as government has already taken steps to regulate the profession in the Construction sector, due to largely incompetent HSE Practitioners flooding the sector not having any effect on accident statistics. In the absence of a strong self-regulatory system, more and more complaints will end up at the law-enforcer’s door and ultimately result in State sanction of the HSE fraternity. Already the Environment component is regulated via the EHPB of the HPCSA and SACNASP. Occupational Health practitioners are already regulated via the SANC and SASOHM and ECSA is regulating the engineering side of the Safety leg.

For the HSE / SHEQ/ SHREQ and the latest addition HSSEQR adding Security in the job description, the only profession left would be that of Administrators, Co-ordinators and SHE reps. But NIOCCSA has seen this coming, and have set a different path inline with over-arching laws in SA. Compliance is foremostly based on the Bill of Rights, the Companies Act, the CMT laws and proper business sense defined in the King reports. These are all executive level stategies, while health and safety is for the reps on the shop floor; a far lower level of strategic priority. The SCE committees required in the Companies Act will eventually engulf the HSE function and the HSE profession will become less prominent. And their reasoning would be that it is not a specialist function.

While NIOCCSA is fighting for the creation and sustainability of specialist functions within the Corporate Social Responsibility & Ethics “systems”, the general prediction is that HSE will inevitably be excluded due to a lack of interest from the profession itself.

If not for the Tongaat Mall debacle, and the DOL’s High level investigation following on as a knee jerk reaction to media reports, the need for HSE practitioners will have lost its allure a lot sooner. Incidents like these happen to remind us that Health & Safety are a non-negotiable item of business, and should be on the agenda of every directors meeting. But it will not be the HSE practitioner that sits at the meeting, but professionals like engineers, lawyers and risk managers.

The writing is on the wall for HSE Practitioners. There is no room left for them in SA. Business has outgrown the profession. The profession failed to keep up. WE have seen this in the SACPCMP Criteria for registration as CHS Agents. The Draft Construction Regulations takes a similar stand. It is and will be an engineer that manages HSE on construction sites. It has to be – safety is too important to leave it in the hands of HSE practitioners whose focus are on files, documents and forms as opposed to designs and plans.

While the agency is to develop health and safety practices, we can also not support a notion that under-qualified persons should be set loose amongst professionals and give advice.

What qualification prepares you to become an expert on HSSERQ? Health – Safety – Security – Environment – Risk Management and Quality Management? That is six professional qualifications to be a full-on professional. No lets face it; besides Financial Risk are top management no longer interested in appointing a high level professional to manage such mundane functions to ensure inspection forms are up to date  and if they can get the “H” for reasonale price, simply add the SSERQ at an annual rate equal to the CPIx as incentive for all the hard work. Besides what HSSERQ practitioner have Occupational Health experience?

The concept is out-dated and “all-terrain” people are no longer wanted. Specialists are needed to oversee strategy and policy related to these six functions. Even for a HSE Practitioner to claim “expert level” status is a bit thick for a dime. But there seem to be an international trend to term one person a health & safety specialist. A person that knows everything about toxicology, microbiology, meteorology, climatolgy, ecology, zoology, botany and mechanical engineering subjects, as well as electrical engineering subjects can surely be called a HSE Specialist. The rest are nothing but management systems administrators.

What NIOCCSA is trying to achieve is above the heads of 99% of the HSE Fraternity.

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