The South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP) will deliver over three thousand registered Construction Health and Safety professionals in 2015 to meet the demand for the National Infrastructure Plan (NIP) that is led by the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC).
The National Infrastructure Plan (NIP) arose from the 2012 State of the Nation Address where the Honourable President Jacob Zuma outlined government’s massive infrastructure development plan. On that day President Zuma said that the infrastructure investment must leave more than just power stations, rail lines, dams and roads. He said it must industrialize our country, generate skills and boost much needed job creation.
The above NIP target is clearly outlined in the Skills for and Through SIPS’ report that was unveiled by the Minister of Higher Education and Training, the Honourable Dr Blade Nzimande on the 2nd September 2014.
“We are happy to announce that systems are in place and have been streamlined to professionalize the CHS discipline. Our efforts to register competent CHS professionals will also contribute to the reduction of deaths, injuries and other incidents on construction sites. It is shocking that South Africa sees almost two deaths a week on construction sites. This means loss of life, loss of breadwinners and loss of family members”, said the Registrar of the SACPCMP, Ms Nomvula Rakolote.
“Registered persons must be certified as competent in order to work in the industry. Where registered CHS professionals default, we follow existing disciplinary processes to protect public interests. This includes deregistering them, a phenomenon that bars them from practicing for a period of time”, she said.
Since the beginning of the year, the SACPCMP has received between three hundred and four hundred applications per month between January and March 2015. This is a significant increase from the nine hundred applications the SACPCMP had received since the opening of registration in June 2013 until December 2014 – in an eighteen month long period. “This means that we have received close to eight hundred applications in two months. We currently have a total in excess of one thousand seven hundred, some of which have been processed while others are still in the system,” continued Ms Rakolote.
On the other hand, we had only forty four registered CHS professionals in the SACPCMP register from the opening of registration in June 2013 until December 2014. To date, that is, almost two months later, that number has doubled to over ninety.
The increase in registration has been boosted by the constant training and appointment of new assessors which augmented an initial pool of fourteen since the opening of registration. This group of assessors has steadily shot up to twenty one people in February 2015. This number is set to rise as more training workshops and induction of assessors are scheduled for early April 2015. The increasing number of assessors assist the SACPCMP with preliminary assessments of CHS applications, marking examinations, where necessary, and conduct professional interviews, where applicable. Ms Rakolote further explained that “systems are in place to deal with the increasing number of applications. We anticipate a sharp increase in applications by end of April 2015. This will be necessitated by the imminent end of a grace that was offered by the Department of Labour’s Chief Inspector at the launch of the Construction Regulations 2014 in February 2014. This grace period will come to an end on the 7th August 2015.
Ms Rakolote compared the anticipated rush for applications to register as CHS professionals to the introduction of the motor vehicle card licenses more than a decade ago. She said “South Africans waited until the last hour to apply for these card licenses. Our projections for steep rise in the number of applications for registration as CHS professionals are thus not misplaced”. She reiterated that “we will train, induct and appoint new assessors to concomitantly meet the demand of the anticipated four thousand applications in the next five to six months ahead of the implementation of the Construction Regulations 2014.”
The Director-General at the Department of Labour, Mr Thobile Lamati was at pains to explain that the grace period that was announced in a Board Notice last year will not be extended. “As a caring government, we want to stomp out deaths and other incidents on construction sites. We are encouraged by the SACPCMP efforts to professionalize the CHS discipline. Come the 7th August 2015, the Construction Regulations 2014 will be in full force. Only those in the SACPCMP register will practice.
Ms Gugu Mazibuko, the Council for the Built Environment (CBE) CEO, expressed support for this process. She said “the CBE is not paying lip-service to the escalating deaths, disabilities (permanent and non-permanent) and other incidents on construction sites. We are facilitating a Built Environment Professionals Accord that will serve as a guideline to entrench Construction Health and Safety across all professions in the construction value chain.”
The SACPCMP further calls on all persons with relevant experience and/or qualifications to apply for registration as CHS professionals. “We are taking CHS into the boardroom. The work of CHS practitioners will now be a priority to senior executives to save life and limb on construction sites,” concluded Ms Rakolote.