The requirement to be registered with South African Council for Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP) is one of the most far-reaching changes of the 2014 Construction Regulations set to come into force on August 7, says training company Alusani Skills & Training Network.
The company notes that this registration would in future also require the professionally registered safety personnel to attend SACPCMP-accredited courses in order to maintain their professional registered status Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points system.
The Department of Labour, in conjunction with the SACPCMP, is currently in the process of finalising the curricula and the criteria for the registration.
Alusani course leader Phillip Verwey explains that people have to be registered, as the new construction regulations entail more stringent health and safety obligations for all parties involved in construction work, including the professional health and safety agent, who would act on behalf of the client; the professionally registered health and safety managers; and the professionally registered health and safety officers who would act on behalf of the appointed principal contractors and contractors.
“Many companies are aware of the changes, but do not have the extensive and practical knowledge required to implement them,” he states, noting that, in this regard, the Alusani course is quite useful.
Verwey states that Alusani’s Construction Regulations Update course is, to his knowledge, the only one in South Africa that is CPD validated by the SACPCMP, the Engineering Council of South Africa and the South African Institution of Civil Engineering.
Verwey notes that there are three new regulations that will have a significant impact on the industry.
Regulation 3 deals with the application for a construction work permit to the Department of Labour, which Verwey says “will have a huge impact, not only on contractors in the construction industry but also on their clients”.
He notes that clients do not always attend construction regulations training courses, as they regard the application of the regulations as the responsibility of the construction company that has been appointed as contractor to the client. However, Regulation 3 makes it the client’s duty and responsibility to apply for the permit required prior to any construction activities starting.
Regulation 6 concerns the duties of the designer – all references made to designers were removed from the old 2003 Regulation 9: Structures as well as 2003 Regulation 10: Temporary Works and implemented into this new construction regulation. This regulation now clearly defines the duties of designers of structures and designers of temporary works.
Regulation 18 deals with rope access, which is applicable to all construction sites where working at height is part of the construction process.
Verwey explains that amid recent increased incidents on construction sites – such as the collapse of the Tongaat Mall, in KwaZulu-Natal, which claimed the lives of two people, and the partial collapse of a house on Gauteng’s East Rand, which claimed the lives of seven people – government decided to evaluate the construction trends in people’s injuries and the claims they have made.
He adds that the inquiry found that there had been a dramatic increase in accidents over the past couple of years in the construction industry in South Africa, and that the most fatalities and serious injuries currently occur in the construction sector.
“The regulations were rewritten, with one of the biggest changes being the closing of linguistic loopholes such as ‘you shall’ to ‘you must’. It has also been rewritten in a manner that is easier to understand.”
During the implementation of these regulatory changes, challenges include normal human resistance to change.
Verwey says many people who have attended the Alusani Construction Regulations course think they can fit the 2003 regulations into the 2014 regulations.
“I think that is the biggest challenge – for course participants to explain to their managers and CEOs that things have changed,” he adds.
Further, many people who have downloaded the registration documents from the SACPCMP website continuously delay submitting them.
Another challenge is that contractors in the house-building and small-building markets do not regard themselves as being part of the heavy construction industry and, therefore, believe the construction regulations do not apply to them.
“This also applies to course participants on the course who work on housing developments. All the regulations apply to them, but they do not always realise that they are being exposed to the risks.”
Being exposed to construction risks also applies to mines. Mines fall under the Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA), which is silent about construction. This means that the MHSA does not address the construction process in any regulation pertaining to the MHSA.
However, Verwey says: “There is a lot of construction at mines, with external construction companies contracted to do the work and in these cases, although the MHSA is quiet, the Occupational Health and Safety Act would apply.
“We have, however, been fortunate in that we have had quite a number of people from the big mining houses attending the Construction Regulations course, who realised that they are exposed to on-site risks,” notes Verwey.