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The SA OHS Act health and safety file process causes delays, plagiarism and corruption. Labour inspectors seem to allow illegal trade in safety files.

Following years of criticism of the way in which the health and safety file process is enforced in construction, consulting practice activist Rudy Maritz called on the Department of Labour to resolve this ‘national dilemma’.

The construction projects and the industry are bogged down by the official vetting process, also referred to as the Safety File Approval Syndrome. See an article by Master Builders North safety manager Doug Michell and several comments by readers at http://sheqafrica.com/construction-safety-file/

Maritz writes; I invited a number of role players to find a solution to this problem with its negative implications for compliance, consulting, corporate culture, and ultimately for safety itself.

The best response I received was from an academic who pointed out that the health component of the health and safety file should be equally important.

How many consultants selling copied and pasted safety files have the ability, skills and training to address health and ergonomic risks? It is a legal requirement, but these elements appear in only four of the almost 2000 files I have seen since we started keeping records three years ago.

Safety files are not for sale

I realise that the Construction Regulations Amendment is due this month, in February 2014, but I do not believe the changes will resolve the problem. However the Department of Labour already has a mechanism to stop the File Approval Syndrome and to stop project delays.

Section 22 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act prohibits the sale of articles enabling compliance with a requirement prescribed by regulation or a health and safety standard, unless such a sale complies with that requirement.

The OHS Act defines a Health and Safety Standard as any standard, irrespective of whether or not it has the force of law, which, if applied for the purposes of the Act, will in the opinion of the Minister promote the attainment of an object of the Act.

A Client Health and Safety Specification falls within that definition, and most specifications refer to an HS File that complies with the Construction Regulations, which states that such as file is “opened and kept on site”.

The file is populated with content as the project goes along, with content referred to in the HS Specification, and the H&S Plan as opening documents.

In a presentation at the SAIOSH conference in November, Prof John Smallwood of the NMMU hit the nail on the head; the file is created at close-out. He outlined the content as follows;
1. ‘As built’ drawings and plans
2. Design criteria such as design loadings
3. Potential hazards included in the structure
4. Construction methods and materials used
5. Equipment and maintenance facilities
6. Maintenance procedures and requirements
7. Manuals (operating and maintenance) for plant and equipment
8. Location and nature of utilities and services.

This health and safety file is what the law intended. Prof Smallwood noted that the H&S File should be;
1. A record of information for the end user (building owner)
2. Alerts to those responsible for the structure and equipment, of significant HS risks that need to be dealt with during, construction such as alteration, refurbishment, maintenance, cleaning and demolition
3. Information for future HS plans.

The logic behind his argument lies in Construction Regulation 9(4) and (5); an owner of a structure shall ensure that inspections of that structure, upon completion, are carried out periodically by competent persons in order to render the structure safe for continued use, at least every six months for the first two years, thereafter yearly. Records of such inspections are kept and made available to an inspector on request.

Origin of File Approval Syndrome

The most popular argument in favour of File Approval is Construction Regulation 4(4); No client shall appoint a principal contractor to perform construction work, unless the client is reasonably satisfied that the principal contractor has the necessary competencies and resources to carry out the work safely.

Construction Regulation 5(10) gives the Principal Contractor the same duty. What better way to determine the competency of a contractor than to evaluate an HS File from a completed project?

If you really have to see what a fire extinguisher inspection form looks like, would a completed one not prove ‘competency’ more than a blank?

There are a variety of ‘approval’ requirements from a number of clients. Some want you to courier a blank file from Durban to Johannesburg, others want you do drive from Cape Town to George to get the local Labour office to stamp your notification of construction work before your file will be approved for a project in Laingsburg, if you want to comply with the HS Specification.

Here is a typical Specification for a Health and Safety File received from a client for my opinion. It was given to them by the Client Agent:
1. HEALTH and SAFETY SPECIFICATION
2. ACTS and REGULATIONS
3. ORGANOGRAM and ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE
4. LETTER/s OF GOOD STANDING
A. Third Party Insurance
B. BEE Certification
C. Tax Certificates
5. HEALTH AND SAFETY DOCUMENTS
A. Occupational Health and Safety Policy
B. Sheq Policy
C. Health and Safety Site Rules and Regulations
D. Health and Safety Inductions

6. CONTRACTOR LETTER OF APPOINTMENT
7. MANDATARY AGREEMENTS
A. Client Agreements
B. Sub-Contractor Agreements
C. Non-Disclosure Agreements

8. SKILLS MATRIX
A. Certificates/Proof of Competency

9. POLICIES
A. Quality policy
B. Environmental policy
C. Drug & alcohol policy
D. PPE policy
E. HIV policy

10. RISK ASSESSMENTS
A. Baseline Risk Assessments
B. Daily Risk Assessments

11. MANAGEMENT PLANS
A. Safety, Health & Environmental Plan
B. Emergency Procedure
C. Emergency Response and Evacuation Plan
D. Fall Protection Plan
E. Waste Management Plan
F. Traffic Management Plan

12. APPPOINTMENTS
A. Health & Safety Organogram
B. Index of Appointments
C. Appointments

13. STACKING AND STORAGE
14. METHOD STATEMENTS
15. SAFE OPERATING PROCEDURES
16. AUDITS
A. Audit Schedule
B. Audit Templates (Basic & Full)
C. Daily/Weekly Safety Reports
D. Health & Safety Representative Checklists

17. SHE COMMITTEE
A. Members list

18. INCIDENT INVESTIGATION AND REPORTING
A. Annexure 1
B. Near Miss Register
C. Incident Register

19. CHECKLISTS AND REGISTERS
20. PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)
A. PPE Risk Assessment
B. PPE Registers

21. MSDSs
A. Diesel
B. Petrol (unleaded 95/93)
C. Duct lubricant
D. Expanding foam
E. Isopropyl alcohol
F. Spraymate spraypaint
G. Grade 60/70 bitumen

22. AWARENESS TRAINING
A. Toolbox Talks and
B. Planned Task Observations
Daily Site Diary

In my response I asked if it was a spot-the-difference quiz, with items 5A, 5B and 9B being confusingly similar. The poor inspector visiting that site will have a hard time making any sense out of the HS Plan.

Health and safety file costs

Health and safety files are selling on Gumtree.co.za for as little as R850, up to R2500. This would include a complete risk assessment, a fall protection plan, an emergency plan, and legal appointments and inspection forms; an entire HSE management system in one file?

These files are pre-fabricated and have no relevance to the project. A hazard identification, assessing and evaluating the safety, health, and ergonomic risks and developing a plan of safe working procedures cannot take less than two days of work if you have all the information available, and do not need to drive around from the designers, to the engineers and back to collect information relevant for the risk assessments.

Health and safety file syndrome cure

No operator could determine or complete the contents of an HS File before Project Close-Out. At best, a File should initially contain information which the client and principal contractor should give for free.

In my opinion it is thus a contravention of Section 22 to sell, or offer for sale, a Health and Safety File that complies with these requirements. The practice of file approvals is against the letter and spirit of the law. I propose three optional solutions.

The construction industry should adhere to the process within the law; Specification, then Plan, Negotiate, Approve, Appoint, commence work, and file it later.

Alternatively, industry should review previous files as a means to determine competence of a potential bidder, and not hold up projects to see if a file with blank records contains copies of laws (even the Employment Equity Act must be in some files before approval).

The DOL should prohibit pre-fabricated files, unless the seller applies for exemption from the requirements of Section 22. This process should involve approval of the product to be sold as a blank template. It should then also be a condition of the exemption that the file must be provided in electronic format, allowing the buyer to edit it as needed.

Alternatively, a co-operative solution could be for the SACPCMP Code of Conduct to require a registered person to report another registered person not following the code, which includes (par 3.3) being objective and truthful in professional reports, statements, or testimonies, including all relevant and pertinent information therein.

Petty approvals versus health and safety

Two years ago I took a client file to a principal contractor for approval. It was reject on the basis that the content was in the incorrect sequence. He gave me a document titled “Index for Health and Safety File”.

I took the file back, downloaded a biography of Marilyn Monroe and copied the text between the headings of the Health and Safety Plan. Under the heading “Reinstatement of Road surfaces” it read in part; “With the movie contract came a new name and image; she…  dyed her hair blonde. But her acting career didn’t really take off until… Her small part in John Huston’s crime drama The ASPHALT Jungle… That same year, she impressed audiences and critics alike with her performance… etc.”

The principal contractor approved the plan. I still have the file and the acceptance certificate. As long as we accept downloaded, copied and pasted HS Plans and files with a copy of content such as the Canadian OHS Act of 2004, we will suffer the syndrome and its symptoms.

As soon as the market no longer needs HS Files to get a contract, the health and safety file process and approval syndrome will be cured.

Clients and contractors should realise that health and safety is not a cheap practice, and not for sale on the web. Yet we continue to present files to engineers and designers with useless information. Small wonder they do not respect us.

• Rudy Maritz is part of the executive of the consulting institute NIOCCSA. He writes in his private capacity as a health and safety consultant.

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  • OMG! There is actually somebody out there that knows how things are supposed to work?
    So why do I need to spend days on end getting stupid files sorted out so I can start the job the company who holds me up are in such a hurry to start?
    Every time its a different client, with different arrangements with a different index and a different attittude.
    How many laws are there by the way? I was under the impression it is only one – the OSHAct.

    So do you suggest I tell the client he’s in the wrong? It will most likely be my last job.

    • Doug

      Nice one that. Ok, so we have the UDHR in the file. My client, company A, subs to Company B, on a site being built by Company C for a Client – Company D, to be handed over in a week. Before we can start we need to:
      1. Get the file approved by Company A
      2. Get the file approved by Company C
      3. Go for induction by company A, and C.
      Then we are ready to go.
      But before we get to site, Company C hands over to Company D (the owner).
      Now we start over:
      1. Submit file to Company D
      2. Attend induction with company D
      3. Provide Company D with copies of all 8 contractor files.
      Right…we are now ready to start working – 4 weeks later!!!!

      And Safety is important? No Sir – The safety officer’s ego is important. The paper work is important.

      WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE STOP THIS CIRCUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      DOL – ISSUE A NOTICE IN THE GAZETTE AND ISSUE PROHIBITION NOTICES
      It is easier to retrench of 20 000 people than to get a job started.

  • We were confronted by a new addition to the list of demands for evaluation of a competent contractor. Try this one;
    Do you have a written UDHR policy? A what?
    Well after a bit of head scratching we identified it as a” Universal Declaration of Human Rights Policy”
    So Mr Shields and others do some web searching I am sure some one somewhere will sell us one. Gum tree is it? I will have to go and do a search.
    Doug

    • HEALTH, SAFETY & ENVIRONMENT FILE
      INDEX
      1. Health, Safety & Environmental Policy
      a. Health and Safety Policy
      b. Environment Policy
      2. Contractor Company Profile
      3. Contractor Project Organisational Chart [Must include full names and legal appointments]
      4. Department of Labours Documents
      a. Valid Letter of Good Standing
      b. Notification of Construction Work [Principal Contractor Responsibility]
      5. Contractor Public & Project Insurance
      6. Occupational Health and Safety Act, Full Version
      7. Health and Safety Specifications
      a. Client’s Specifications
      b. Nokia Siemens Networks Specifications
      8. Risk Assessments
      a. Scope of work
      b. Client’s Risk Assessment Methodology
      c. Client’s Baseline Risk Assessment
      d. Contractor Risk Assessment Methodology
      e. Contractor Site Specific Risk Assessment Inclusive of Action Plan, Monitoring and Review
      9. Letters of Appointment
      a. Appointments Index
      b. Section 16(2) Assistant to the CEO
      c. Section 8(2)(i) Supervision of Plant or Machinery [If required]
      d. GAR 9(2) Incident Investigator
      e. GSR 3(4) First Aider
      2
      f. GSR 13A. Ladder Inspector
      g. CR 5(3)(b) Contractor
      h. CR 6(1) Construction Site Supervisor
      i. CR 6(2) Assistant Construction Site Supervisor
      j. CR 6(6) Site Safety Officer [When specified by Client]
      k. CR 7(1) Risk Assessor
      l. CR 8(1)(a) Fall Protection Plan Developer
      m. CR 21(1)(j) Construction Vehicle and Mobile Plant
      n. CR 27(h) Construction Site Fire Extinguisher
      o. Other Appointments not listed as required due to scope of work
      p. Competencies of Appointees
      10. Project Health, Safety and Environmental Management Plans
      a. Project Health & Safety Plan
      b. Project Environmental Management Plan
      c. Project Fall Protection Plan
      1) Fall Protection Plan Developer Appointment
      2) Work at Heights Risk Assessment
      3) Medical Certificates of Fitness for Work at Heights
      4) Work at Heights Training
      5) Gear Inspections Checklists
      6) Rescue Plan
      d. Project Medical and Hygiene Management Plans
      e. Road Traffic Management Plan
      f. Fatality Prevention Plan
      g. Emergency Numbers & On site Emergency Plan
      11. Health, Safety and Environmental Management Procedures
      a. HSE/002-Policy
      b. HSE/003-Standards
      c. HSE/010-Roles Responsibilities and Authority
      d. HSE/011-Committees
      e. HSE/012-Consultation and Communication
      f. HSE/013-Section 16(2) Appointments
      g. HSE/014-External Communication
      h. HSE/020-Health and Safety Risk Assessments
      i. HSE/021-Legal and Other Requirements
      3
      j. HSE/022-Objectives, Targets and Action Plans
      k. HSE/023-Management of Contractors
      l. HSE/030-Bomb Threats
      m. HSE/031-Construction Aspects
      n. HSE/033-Electrical Equipment
      o. HSE/034-Electrical Lockout Procedure
      p. HSE/035-Emergency Preparedness and Response
      q. HSE/036-Evacuation
      r. HSE/037-Facilities
      s. HSE/038-Fall Protection
      t. HSE/039-Fire Fighting
      u. HSE/040-First Aid
      v. HSE/041-Hazardous Chemical Substances
      w. HSE/042-Incident Reporting
      a. Recording & Investigation of Incidents – Annexure 1
      x. HSE/043-Ladders
      y. HSE/044-Mechanical Equipment
      z. HSE/045-Personal Protective Equipment
      aa. HSE/046-Rooftops
      bb. HSE/047-Scaffolding
      cc. HSE/048-Service Disruption
      dd. HSE/049-Towers
      ee. HSE/050-Waste Management
      ff. HSE/051-COID Reporting
      a. W.Cl.1(E) Report of an Occupational Disease
      b. W.Cl.2 Employers Report of an Accident
      c. W.Cl.4 – First Medical Report Accidents
      d. W.Cl.5 – Final / Progress Medical Report in Respect of an Accident
      e. W.Cl.6 – Resumption Report
      f. W.Cl.22 – First Medical Report-Diseases
      g. W.Cl.26 – Final-Progress Medical Report-Diseases
      h. W.Cl.132 – Affidavit by Employee
      gg. HSE/052-Welding
      hh. HSE/055-Drills
      ii. HSE/056-Oxy-Acetylene
      jj. HSE/090-Monitoring and Measurement
      4
      kk. HSE/092-Control of Records
      ll. HSE/093-Document and Data Control
      mm. HSE/0101-Management Review
      12. Safe Work Instructions
      nn. SWI/001-Portable Drill & Magnetic Drill
      oo. SWI/002-Pedestal Drill
      pp. SWI/003-Portable Grinder
      qq. SWI/004-Bench Grinder
      rr. SWI/005-Electric Arc Welding
      ss. SWI/006-Oxygen and Acetylene Gas Equipment
      tt. SWI/007-Compressors
      uu. SWI/008-Spray Painting
      vv. SWI/009-Brush Painting
      ww. SWI/010-Ladders
      xx. SWI/011-Using Lifting Tackle and Equipment
      yy. SWI/012-Working at Heights
      zz. SWI/013-Operating Band Saw
      aaa. SWI/014-Operating Cut-Off Saw
      bbb. Other required checklists, construction site related, e.g. excavating machine, mobile compressor,
      directional drilling machine, etc. as per site application.
      13. Checklists & Registers
      ccc. OHS/030-Control Sheet For Kitchens and Canteens
      ddd. OHS/031-Control Sheet For Toilets and Change Rooms
      eee. OHS/032-Dangerous Goods Checklist
      fff. OHS/033-Earth Leakage Control Checklist
      ggg. OHS/034-Electrical Hazards Checklist
      hhh. OHS/035-Electrical Installations Checklist
      iii. OHS/036-Fire Fighting Equipment Checklist
      jjj. OHS/037-Fire Risk Identification Checklist
      kkk. OHS/038-First Aid Box and Equipment Checklist
      lll. OHS/039-Flammable and Combustible Materials Checklist
      mmm.OHS/040-Gas Welding and Cutting Equipment Checklist
      nnn. OHS/041-Grinding Machine Checklist
      ooo. OHS/042-Hand Tools and Equipment Checklist
      5
      ppp. OHS/043-Hazardous Substances Checklist
      qqq. OHS/044-Housekeeping Checklist (Walking and Working Surfaces)
      rrr. OHS/045-Ladder Inspection Checklist
      sss. OHS/046-Lighting Deviation Checklist
      ttt. OHS/047-Lifting Machines And Lifting Tackle Checklist
      uuu. OHS/048-Personal Protective Equipment Requirement Form
      vvv. OHS/049-Personal Protective Equipment Issue
      www. OHS/050-Portable Air Tool Checklist
      xxx. OHS/051-Portable Electrical Tools and Appliances Checklist
      yyy. OHS/052-Public Safety Checklist
      zzz. OHS/053-Roofing Checklist
      aaaa. OHS/054-Safe Work Permit Checklist
      bbbb. OHS/055-Competent Person Scaffolding Checklist (1)
      cccc. OHS/056-Competent Person Scaffolding Checklist (2)
      dddd. OHS/057-Competent Person Scaffolding Checklist (3)
      eeee. OHS/058-Stacking and Storing Checklist
      ffff. OHS/059-Fall Protection User Equipment Checklist
      gggg. OHS/060-Fall Protection Equipment User Log – Rope Checklist
      hhhh. OHS/061-Fall Protection Equipment 3-Monthly Full Inspection Form – Ropes
      iiii. OHS/062-Fall Protection Equipment User Sets Checklist
      jjjj. OHS/063-Fall Protection Equipment User Log – Weekly Inspection Form
      kkkk. OHS/064-Safe Work Procedure Checklist
      llll. OHS/065-Trailer Checklist
      mmmm. OHS/066-Vehicle Checklist
      nnnn. OHS/076 PPE Checklist
      oooo. Other required checklist as identified by the employer to comply with Section 8 of the OHSAct.
      14. Incident or Accident Reporting Process
      a. Accident Reporting Processes Chart
      b. OHS/074 Incident Record Register
      15. Training
      a. OHS/080 Awareness Training
      b. OHS/081 Toolbox Talks
      16. Section 37(2) Indemnity Agreements
      a. With Client
      6
      b. With Contractors
      17. Audit Reports (Internal & External)
      18. HSE Administration
      a. Medical [Vehicle Drivers(Public Licensed), Construction Workers (Labourers) & Noise Exposed Workers]
      b. On Site Induction
      c. Task Related Competencies
      d. Task Related Training Records

      UHM!!! To install an alarm system in a Comms Room? FOFF!!!

  • I think the Intention of CR 5 (7)&(8) is to root out unqualified/unsuitable candidates to prevent injury/ill health, but the result is that “the love of money” there are always people willing to sell out for a few less shekels.
    The Inspectors from the department & agent of the Client just need to be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves”, Top notch and sincere.
    My perception of the revision is that the Client & his agent have more to do instead of the the contractor which I think is a good thing.
    I do not think it is right that a Plan&File needs to be constructed/submitted before the Risk involved is ascertained and priced accordingly in order to best reduce risk.
    I do not think it’s fair for the client (public&private) to give a Generic specification and then the Tendering contractor to regurgitate a generic H&S Plan right back.

    The bar is set by the Client&agent.
    Competent contractors know what the legislation says, know how do implement, maintain and exceed compliance.
    Does the client care about appointing the right people for the job that will look out for the workers?
    This will all be reflected in the price the “client” is willing to pay.

  • I truly agree with the article… Most contractors and client do not take Health and Safety seriously and therefore opt for copy and paste syndrome because they want to commence work. I have seen 7 files for different contractors having the same information for different Projects of different scope of work and worse you see that the Risk assessment include working at height for digging trenches and building a half a metre high wall and the rating is so high that it will be impossible to do work. One question I have asked was that “do you know the contents of the file?” and I bet they know nothing. Wait until an incident occurres and you’ll see people pointing fingure to one another. Contractors do not understand the relevance of the Safety File that is why they put irrelevant information in them and expect files to be approved. Furthermore the approver puts his or her life in danger in case something happens…. God Bless Us please…..!

    • Katiso

      You can ask anybody if they know the content of the file, the CLient, the PC, the Agent, The subbie and nobody will know. Why?
      Because to get the file approved, the headings on the pages only need to match the tick sheet used by the auditor. The content is irrelevant. And the case in the article with Marilyn Monroe’s biography is not so far-fetched. The index and the tick was a perfect match! 10/10 you are competent!
      SACPCMP need to be very careful who they register and why! I will be watching that register and I promise you I will object to every name I see and know they are not CHSO material. Even if it means going to the media. I am sick and tired of this. My business is hardly making any profits. It all goes to safety. Not prevention of injuries but to get a “Safe to start working” permit!
      So if the engineers and designers laugh at Safety Officers, they have all the reason in the world.
      Charles Darwin will be so delighted that the missing link finally emerged!
      I reaslise there are professionals out there, and do not feel offended. You are obviously not included! As for the rest, Welcome to the club!

  • Good on you Rudi for setting the record straight. How many times do we find that a H&S File is a mere paper exercise which consists of useless duplicated information which then gets the client’s approval. Client, meaning some ‘highly knowledgeable’ person who sits in an office and does not have a clue of how things are suppose to get done at operational level. The H&S plan is exactly that, a plan on how you will need to go about the specific work/project in order to ensure it gets done safely and without adversely affecting the health of ANYONE who might be exposed to the work activities.

  • Hi
    Well said Rudy!its a syndrome which must be removed,because of it we spend a lot of time in the office busy with a lot of un necessary paperwork when we should be on the job site focusing on the safety of employees,every project i have done i always come across different safety file requirements there must be a standard to regulate this because people keep asking for a lot of useless nonsense

  • I understand the H&S File this article refers to as an “owners manual” for a completed structure.
    However, and let me be frank, I make around 20 files a month at a very reasonable profit. It is all generic yes, but it is sold on the basis that a “safety officer” makes the neccessary changes as required.
    Individuals who complain about projects being delayed only have themselves to blame. It is their own rules and rediculous requirements that stall the projects.
    And do not bother with the DOL inspectorate. Not even they know what should be in the file. They will only recite the regulations back at you.
    What I do gather though, is a parralel system.
    One the one end you have a HSM system in a file on site to cover the legal requirements applicable to your business liability.
    On the other end you have the Structure’s H&S File as the CR regulation requires.
    The first is thus not illegal. The second is however non-existant. Show me ONE client that wants a H&S file on completion of a project. None – besides, for the purposes as indicated by Prof Smallwood, a roll of 2-ply toilet paper has the same value. No instead, the as-built documents and structural requirements and plant manuals are handled by the engineers – not the safety officers.
    Once again, people jumped on a wagon where they do not belong.
    The law never said safety officers must compile a H&S File. Clients, knows this and have their own seperate documents the safety officer never even sees. They do comply with the law.
    The safety officers created their own monster by duplicating a requirement for their own sake – not that this is wrong either. But the current files that we see on site, and those making me wealthy, are intended to ensure a contractor has some sort of HSM on site.
    So there….I rest my case. Well done to all you safety officers with your silly requirements. I can retire by fixing problems you create.
    And, just of the record: My files are editable, in MSWord format. Yet, my clients keep calling me for updates every time a safety officer logs on to Google and discover a new document he/she needs in the file.
    Special offer for all readers: UDHR policy now selling for R55.00 each! I can probably go to Mauritius by the end of the year with this alone.(Pst – do not let others know, they might get jealous and stop asking for it)

    Yet, where does Health & safety of the workers fit into all of this? Am I unethical?
    Not at all, I sell what the market wants. And if Universities can make money from uneducated people, why can’t I and all the other people selling “pre-fabricated files”?

  • Hi all

    Hind-sight is always perfect science, but I still wonder why the MBA north raised the issue if the MBA KZN has a member on the advisory committee who by their own admission had a major stake in the drafting of the new text. Why was this not changed then or are we going to receive the best news ever on the 10th?

    Our company currently has 1200 SHE Practitioners in various capacities working within Sub-saharan Africa, mostly for international role players. Around 45 000 contractor files pass through our hands on an annual basis. All of them are different, yet all of them start at kick-off of the project. That is how we plan it, from the input stages.

    Contractor vetting gets done too, but on totally different grounds. For instance, claims are evaluated. What better record of safety performance than a contractor’s Accident Stats. (I here the word “luck” being uttered by a few readers). Perhaps, but nobody goes home in a bodybag.

    It is not the current or future regulations that will solve the issue. It is what most of us call Risk Management.
    If done properly, by competent agents / officers, there are no delays. Projects are not planned today and the bricks delivered tomorrow.
    It is time the SA Construction industry get their own house in order. As Mr Mitchell said, we created the moster – let’s kill it, or continue to clean its cage, feed it and take it to the mall every Sunday. (Not the Tongaat Mall, its too late).

  • You okes are so funny. The construction regs in SA are a bastardisation of the CDM Regs in the UK – and the guys in SA still can’t get it right after nearly 10 years. The useless DOL can’t enforce legislation they drafted on a whim, copying parts from existing UK legislation and inserting parts that better suited them. Even then, the CDM regs are not a solely UK invention – these are based on an EU wide directive, which all EU member countries having to implement in a way they see fit by creating localised legislation and enforcing accordingly – resulting in different standards across the board. So until there is an enforcement authority and legislator who is capable of drafting legislation that the construction industry is able to understand and implement appropriately, every tom, dewaldt and herman will be on the bandwagon making money out of what appears to be baffling and overly complex regulations. Which is why they are probably trying to regulate who can offer this advice, because frankly it likes like one huge gemors. All the leading lights such as the Professor regularly referred take their lead from the example set in the UK. That information has been out there for 20 years now and is not new. Ole Koos knows a thing or two, and yes my engels can be quite delicious.

    • Thank you Koos jou doring in the voet, for the enlightenment. Some of us also knows that.
      Yet, when the clients goes off on a tangent (Perhaps under expert advice), creating a totally different system to what the law initially intended, and SAQA Accredited training providers and others start spreading it like gospel, the market adapts, creating a system that is sold as “correct”.
      This is all good and fine and works well to ensure compliance, although the intended end product gets lost along the way.
      But then others see a market in a gap they still need to create, by adding and adding more and more requirements to the initial process. Then a 20 page plan turns into a 500 page file. Then another AGENT comes along and discovers there are actually sub-contractors who also need these newly invented mutation of a File and start auditing and approving them too, as part of their own “cover my butt” exercise.
      And here we are, today, ten years later, on the brink of issuing licenses that will allow this to continue until IRCNOSHCAR+ takes over and rename all the streets once more.
      And obviously will people reject being regulated. For one, it will suddenly become apparent that people who think they are smart, are just not smart enough to make it as agent. And secondly, there is a slight probability that the controlling body, might want to verify the authenticity of that Doctorate degree some people claim to have in Safety Management – I already know of two persons who were kicked in the family heirlooms for fake qualifications – damn they fake letters of good standing to get jobs, what difference does a degree ot three make?
      Leading lights such as Professor Smallwood, taking the lead from the UK, is exactly what every single SHE prictitioner is doing. The difference in his case, is that he has the ability to change the future. Others, myself included, cannot teach at NMMU, so we do what we can to change things.
      And then there are the Brake Lights! Stuck on the tailgate with cheap glue, blinking bright red of embarrasment, sitting and waiting for the 18 months grace period to expire and then shout the loudest STOP THE SITE!! The file is wrong!!

      The sad thing Koos, is that people like you know the correct process too, and I bet you a construction supervisor’s hard hat, you are not the only one.

      Once again the unity in SHE Practice only exists in the colour of our money!

  • Funny? Nope Hilarious!!
    I was searching on Google for safety files when I saw this crime stuff.
    You are all so wrong!
    Safety File approvals are important. It is the only job a safety officer has.
    I’m a site manager for a smallish contractor. The only time we see a safety officer on site, is when we are called in to update our files.
    The safety officer sits in the container-camp all month, and then at around the end of the month she sends a mail to us all, telling that it is time for a safety file audit.
    Then we all go and update the paperwork, get our lolly-pop for good work and then go back. For the rest of the month we do not see or hear from her. She is always there, but never on site. Simply sits in the container in front of her laptop.
    When you have a question, she is too busy to help you.
    Once in a while, she strolls around on site with a camera. Then we get a report of all the mistakes we make. At invoicing time, we are R500 to R2000 short paid, for failing to comply.
    Then she disappears for two or three weeks. On training. Hoping that this will improve our situation, she comes back with new knowledge and suddenly the files needs to be fixed. We had our work stopped for failing to complete a toolbox talk form.
    We lost a total of 4 days, on a project that took 4 weeks.
    In my personal opinion, Safety is a waste of time and money. At least the way it is going on at the moment.
    In the old days, government had teams of people digging trenches, and teams filling them, just to create jobs.Safety is not about us getting killed. It is about getting paid to sit on facebook and whatever else one do as a safety officer. Frankly I do not think they are needed. I do not have one in my company, and I never will. I never had an accident and I had a number of inspectors on my sites.
    I for one, buy the cheapest file I can get, as it is a waste of paper.
    So you can debate and change and improve all you like. But Koos is correct, You are so funny!!
    Do I think much of safety, or the law? No not really. If I need to close my company tomorrow, I will do so. I have enough other stuff I can do, without having to live with crap like this.
    Oh and for the record….there are people selling illegal files in word format. I just got mine via e-mail this afternoon. I can edit it all I want. One less safety officer on my sites!
    The safety on our site will not even know its illegal. I already have my own logo on it.

  • Let me approach this from a financial perspective, in order to get your attention and negate any misconceptions.

    Few new businesses in this and most countries don’t break the 10 year mark.
    To use a term from environmental, your aim is to be sustainable, make a profit.
    You need to find a need for goods/services and work really hard to make it work, taking a lot of calculated risks financially.
    You reduce your risk as far as possible to maintain your viability, one mistake (insurance claim) could cost you your investment.
    Besides the fact that you hopefully have a conscience and do care about the people and environment you do business in, you hope to maximize your productivity.
    In the current environment (strikes/service delivery protests) you will acknowledge that at the end of the day you are dealing with people.
    Companies and businesses are looking at ever increasing measures to retain good workers that they have invested in to remain competitive in the global/local environment.
    If the decision is to follow a course of action that ignores your human capital and the “Safety and Health ” of those individuals, then have a nice day to you.
    Implementing a management program (SHE) should not equate to mountains of paperwork, but should be suitable and sufficient to cover all your specific areas of Risk (Legal/Insurance/Technological/Business Continuity/Reputation)

    Best regards,

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