Maintaining professional competence

Neels Nortjé, chief executive officer of the South African Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Saiosh), explains why it is important to pursue continuing professional development in the health and safety field

Continuing professional development (CPD) refers to the process of tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience that a professionally registered person gains beyond initial training – whether formally or informally – while practising. It’s a record of what a professional person experiences, learns and then applies in his or her work.

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) is the custodian of professional bodies and professional designations. In order for a professional designation to be registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), it must:

• Be submitted to SAQA by a recognised professional body in accordance with an application process determined by the organisation;

• Be conferred, developed or revoked in terms of the rules, legislation and/or international conventions applicable to the recognised professional body;

• Be monitored in terms of the rules, legislation and/or international conventions applicable to the recognised professional body;

• Be part of a progression pathway which may include an occupational pathway;

• Be linked to a validated database of the names of individuals who have been conferred with a professional designation;

• Include, as an initial requirement, at least one underlying qualification, which may include an occupational qualification;

• In the case of an individual’s qualification having been obtained at an institution not registered in South Africa, the individual applying to a professional body for a professional designation must ensure that the qualification has been evaluated by SAQA and found to be comparable to the South African underlying qualification;

• Include as general requirements, experiential learning, recognition of prior learning and/or practical experience;

• Include as retention requirements CPD and adherence to a code of professional ethics/conduct.

A professionally registered person is required to subscribe to CPD in order to function effectively and to maintain his or her professional registration status, and has the responsibility to keep abreast of developments and knowledge in their particular areas of expertise.

Registered health and safety professionals must strive to maintain professional competence, and keep abreast of emerging issues, best practices and world trends in the field of occupational health and safety (OHS).

They must aim to contribute to the development of the OHS profession through the sharing of skills, ideas and participation in networking to promote and enhance the competence of the profession. CPD activities must occur in three areas – maintaining core skills, new technical/speciality skills and transferable skills.

Saiosh is recognised by SAQA as the professional body that registers OHS practitioners in South Africa in terms of the NQF Act – Act 67 of 2008. Saiosh is committed to the upgrading of professional skills of its members by keeping them updated and informed on latest developments in the field of OHS.

On a regular basis, Saiosh holds provincial seminars and workshops for its members that encompass a wide range of OHS topics. Quality speakers are secured to facilitate the workshops and the topics are carefully selected to ensure that members are kept up to date with latest developments in the OHS field.

Saiosh members attend for free and bookings are done via easy online registration. CPD points are instantly uploaded to members’ online profiles when marked off in attendance at the workshops.

The workshops are also verified by the South African Council for Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP) with CPD hours.

Saiosh also offers other platforms for its members to attain CPD points – free webinars and a 20-module free OHS e-learning programme.

To view the Saiosh CPD policy visit

Published by

Neels Nortje

Neels Nortjé is a founder and the CEO of Saiosh. He has been practising OHS for over 30 years. He started his career with Eskom in 1981, qualifying as an architectural draughtsman. In 1986 he switched focus to safety risk management, qualifying with Eskom as an OHS risk management officer. Nortjé holds a N6 Mechanical and Electrical Engineering qualification and a National Diploma in Safety Management. He was appointed to serve on the Minister for Labour's Advisory Council for OHS and is a Chartered Member of both Saiosh (CMSaiosh) and IOSH (CMIOSH).
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