Occupational Health and Safety officers can register with the South African Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (SAIOSH) to obtain a designation, stay updated on legislation and access the numerous other benefits including bursary funding
Professional registration for occupational health and safety (OHS) practitioners is relatively new in South Africa, despite the fact that there are more than 100 recognised professional bodies in the country (some of which were established in the early 1900s) to register and declare persons competent to practise in specific occupational fields at specific levels.
Some of these are statutory bodies with which people must be professionally registered in order to practise in that particular occupational field. Others are voluntary associations. Whether statutory or voluntary all professional bodies fulfil the same function.
Professional bodies and their professional designations are recognised and registered by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) in terms of the NQF Act, Act 67 of 2008.
In terms of the SAQA Policy and Criteria for Recognising a Professional Body and Registering a Professional Designation (SAQA Policy), a “professional body” refers to a body of expert practitioners in an occupational field and includes an occupational body and statutory council.
“Professional designation” refers to a title or status conferred by a professional body in recognition of a person’s expertise or right to practise in an occupational field.
The objective of the SAQA policy is to promote public understanding of and trust in professions through the establishment of a nationally regulated system for the recognition of professional bodies and the registration of professional designations.
It also aims to promote the protection of the public, by professional bodies, from malpractice related to the fulfilment of the professional duties and responsibilities of professionals registered with them.
The landscape of the OHS profession in South Africa changed with the establishment of Saiosh in February 2010. It received SAQA recognition as the professional body for OHS in March 2013. Three professional OHS Designations were registered: Technical Member (TechSaiosh), Graduate Member (GradSaiosh) and Chartered Member (CMSaiosh).
These designations were adopted from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) in the United Kingdom. The minimum qualifications and experience required for professional registration in the OHS field are listed in the table.
In terms of the SAQA policy, professionally registered people are required to subscribe to continuing professional development (CPD) to function effectively and maintain their registration status. Registered persons have the responsibility to keep abreast of developments and knowledge in their area of expertise to maintain their competence.
Members of Saiosh continually strive through personal initiative to maintain professional competence and keep abreast of, for example, emerging issues and world trends in the field of OHS. Members contribute to the development of the OHS profession by sharing skills, ideas and participating in networking to promote and enhance the competence of the profession.
The benefits of being professionally registered are immense. A person receives a professional title or status conferred by a professional body in recognition of their expertise and/or right to practise in an occupational field. The member is also kept updated with the latest trends in the occupation.
Saiosh is committed to the upgrading of the professional skills of its members by keeping them informed on the latest developments in the field of OHS. Saiosh does this by offering members the following benefits:
• SAQA professional registration;
• Free provincial CDP OHS workshops;
• Free OHS webinars;
• Free e-learning;
• Free legal updates and 50-percent discount on Acts and Regulations;
• Free legal advice forum;
• Online networking;
• Free subscription to SHEQ MANAGEMENT magazine;
• Online CPD and profile updates;
• OHS conferences;
• Updates and newsletters; and
• A career portal.
Saiosh also offers the following added benefits for its members:
• Recognition of Student of the Year with a financial award;
• Recognition of Person of the Year with a financial award;
• Bursary funding for qualifying members.
In addition, Saiosh also acts as a lobby group for OHS legislation and standards and for this purpose interacts and liaises with the Department of Labour and other government bodies on behalf of its members.