The Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (Chieta) has awarded training accreditation to the South African Paint Industry Training Institute (Sapiti) – the training arm of the South African Paint Manufacturers Association (Sapma).
Making the announcement at Sapma’s annual general meeting (AGM), last month, Chieta quality assurance manager Stuurman Aphane said processes were under way to award work skills programmes and discretionary grants to the institute.
“Chieta will also ensure that we have the necessary staff to deal with this new accredi- tation,” he said.
Sapma executive director Deryck Spence hailed the announcement as a major breakthrough for the coatings sector.
“The benefits include that Sapma members can now claim back training levies and also access training that will add to their broad-based black economic-empowerment (BEE) ratings,” he said.
He added that the critical shortage of skills in the industry has led to increased poaching of staff between competitors.
“There was apathy towards the training provided by Sapiti because of a lack of accreditation from government. Sapma members all subscribe to government’s training levy but did not receive refunds or BEE points for sending staff to non- accredited courses, despite government offering no alternative training for the industry.
“Sapma has, for nearly ten years, tried to obtain Chieta accreditation for the Sapiti training modules. Training is vital in the coatings sector, not only from a technical and production point of view, but also from an applications standpoint.
“About 80% of all painting and applications problems arise from inferior surface preparation and the new Consumer Protection Act regulations hold a mine- field of potential problems for companies using untrained staff.
“Fortunately, government has now empowered the coatings sector to train workers to boost the national economy and create badly needed jobs,” said Spence.
Further, he warned that the ageing popu- lation of paint chemists in South Africa makes training of new professionals in the coatings industry imperative, and with the Chieta accreditation now obtained, the cost of training can no longer be used as an excuse for neglecting training.
He called on all large-scale Sapma members to, in future, nominate five students for Sapiti training every year, and on small and medium-sized companies to send three employees and one student for training each year.
Unveiling plans for a new centre of excel- lence training facility in Ekurhuleni, Spence said the dedicated training facility could, coupled with the Chieta accreditation, serve up to 500 students a year.
He added that Sapma’s training arm urgently required retired coatings indus- try veterans to “put something back into the industry” by assisting with lecturing duties.
Meanwhile, the association’s AGM also highlighted the industry’s continued struggle to eliminate hazardous lead-based paint from being sold.
Medical Research Council Environmental and Health Research director Professor Angela Mathee told the AGM that a study by the Department of Health (DoH) had found that hazardous lead-based paints were still freely available from South African retailers.
She explained that samples collected from retailers for laboratory analysis of lead content, this year, had shown that 40% of the paint still had an illegal, elevated lead content.
“We found a lead content of as high as 170 000 parts per million in the worst offenders. Inadequate and illegal labelling was also prevalent with containers of paint that had an elevated lead content either not carrying a warning about the lead content, or, in some cases, stating that the product contained no lead,” she said.
She added that the DoH is still collecting paint samples for analysis and that prosecution of offenders would be the next course of action.
“The negative publicity that will follow will undoubtedly severely damage the operations of these unscrupulous operators,” she said.
Mathee noted that lead poisoning results in low IQ scores, poor school performance, hyperactivity and learning disabilities.
Meanwhile, some paint samples that were analysed by the DoH contained no lead, she says, but the labels failed to say so.
“I urge all Sapma members who comply with government legislation through the removal of lead from their paints to clearly state so on their labels. This will reassure the public and serve as a positive marketing tool for these manufacturers,” she said.
A 2009 survey of lead content in South African paint samples from retail shelves had shown that 80% of the paint had an elevated lead content. This led government to introduce legislation to ban leaded paints in 2010.
Sapma chairperson Terry Ashmore urged paint industry members to take responsibility for the lead content in paint and not to consider the issue a retail problem.
“Government has been patient with the industry in this regard and it is now up to us to ensure that leaded paint does not end up on retail shelves,” he says.
Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has officially endorsed the Sapma Coatings for Africa symposium and exhibition to be held at Gallagher Estate, in Johannesburg, from May 21 to 23, 2013.
Jointly presented by Sapma and the Oil & Colour Chemists’ Association (OCCA), the event is the largest coatings exhibition and symposium on the African continent.
With the backing of the DTI, Coatings for Africa is expected to grow even further in stature, said Sapma Coatings for Africa committee chairperson Danny Grady.
DTI head of communications and market- ing Ngwako Clement Manoko said the department viewed Coatings for Africa as “one of the initiatives where stake- holders and role-players in the industry can share ideas and showcase South Africa’s capacity in the sector”.
Held every three years, Coatings for Africa was previously staged at a resort in the Drakensberg but the event’s growth and the need for a more centralised and accessible venue prompted the association to move it to Johannesburg.
“With the DTI’s support, there is likely to be strong attendance by trade delegations from other sub-Saharan States. The OCCA, too, has ties with many trade and technical associations across the world.
“The format for the exhibition will also be changed to accommodate a greater commercial element to augment its traditional technology transfer element. “This promises to be the most important calendar event for the African coatings industry ever,” said Grady.
He added that the event would focus on a greener future for the coatings industry and would be an important marketplace for companies that wished to extend their business activities beyond Africa’s borders.