NIOCCSA lashes out at Unethical Practitioners

Following on complaints by DASHSA on behalf of the Construction EME’s, the National Institute of Organisational Compliance Consultants (NIOCCSA) adopted a membership policy document on 28 February 2014, which resulted in 1304 applications being declined.

“We received the Agency’s formal complaint and a large amount of applications predominantly from the OHS consultants mentioned in the complaint,  whom we placed in a CPD register for reconsideration after the SACPCMP registration deadline in 18 months, did not meet our minimum standards. We investigated the matter and on 28 February, we introduced a policy that consulting members have to have an understanding of the Construction Process to follow for “contractor appointments”. We found these members not to follow this process properly, and have removed them. “ said legal services director, Andrew Winder.

“There were two aspects we considered in adopting the new policy. The first was the H&S Approval process followed, and the second was the “STOP WORK” mentality of the consultants.”

“The members in question are all supporting either one or both of these problem areas in their modus operandii, and we opted to remove them without further notice. This is obviously a huge set-back in terms of our own sustainability and resulted in a drastic decrease in revenue from memberships, but ethics and professionalism are more important.”

The decision stemmed from the various comments and issues listed by the Agency on File approvals instead of following the proper route as contemplated in the Construction Regulations. We sent all applicants a request for information on how they handle contractor evaluation and appointments, and 1 218 responded that an H&S File has to be approved by them prior to work and sites are stopped when these files are not in order.

As part of the request, we also found that 908 of the 1304 applicants indicated their “Stop Work” criteria included H&S files not containing the requested information.

The Construction regulations are quite clear on both issues. And the consultants are not following the rule of law, making their own rules, instead of advising their clients as to the legal requirements.

Stopping work can only be based on “just cause” and:

a)      By the Client agent: when a construction activity poses a threat to the health and safety of persons which is not in accordance with the client’s health and safety specifications and the principal contractor’s health and safety plan for the site

b)      By the designer or client agent: when any construction work is not in accordance with the relevant design’s health and safety aspects,

c)     By the Principal’s Construction Manager: construction work which is not in accordance with the client’s health and safety specifications and the principal contractor’s health and safety plan for the site or which poses a threat to the health and safety of persons.

No OHS Manager / Officer has the direct authority to stop work, unless specifically mandated in their letter of appointment. If not so mandated, the order to stop work, must come from the persons above.

In addition to declining their applications, we placed them on a “red list” and once SACPCMP registration is in place, will lodge formal complaints to the SACPCMP in terms of their Code of Conduct if any of our members are affected by the conduct of the practitioners on this list.

In response to a question of bad business decision, Andrew Winder responded that NIOCCSA is not a business, and do not have to make a profit. We are about a group of professionals who knows our jobs and will not allow our member’s clients to suffer because of incompetence. We will even claim loss of income from practitioners causing unfounded project delays if the SACPCMP do not take appropriate action.

“We want to send a message to construction companies, that our listed members are real CHS practitioners, with a practical and realistic approach to compliance; not people who delay a project because of a “non-legal” requirement. We do this as part of our efforts to increase professionalism in the industry, and if an applicant can demonstrate that, they can join our Institute. We do not want members who delay projects, stop entire sites, simply because the “Agent” does not understand the duties of the various role players.” Winder concluded.

Some of the examples found on sites were contractors being removed from site because of incomplete files, including items like Section 37(2) agreements, Client specs, PC baseline risk assessments, only to be informed by the agent concerned that these documents were never provided in the first place.  NIOCCSA removed 28 of these particular agents, mostly after site visits in the Cape region, from their database, simply for victimising the contractors, whilst failing in their own duties.

The Agency advises all SMME contractors who fall victim of this behaviour to lodge a formal complaint with NIOCCSA at legal@nioccsa.org.za

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