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Frequently asked questions
ASK THE PRESIDENT

 

Through our member engagement drive the following questions that were asked, have been recorded here for future reference.
If you have a question for the President you can e-mail your question to saiohpresident@saioh.co.za



WHAT IS OCCUPATIONAL HYGIENE?
Occupational hygiene programmes attempt to prevent illnesses and injuries arising from workplace hazards. Since the South African Occupational Health and Safety Act was passed in 1993, workplace illnesses have been recognised as just as important as injuries from occupational accidents. These illnesses or conditions can mean many days or weeks out of work, or even permanent disability, causing serious economic hardship to a worker and his or her family.
Occupational hygiene is the discipline of anticipating, recognising, evaluating and controlling health hazards in the workplace. Occupational hygiene is a science but it also involves professional judgment, innovative problem solving and people skills.
WHAT DOES AN OCCUPATIONAL HYGIENIST DO?
Occupational hygienists keep workers, and the communities surrounding workplaces, healthy and safe. They also ensure compliance with national, provincial, and local laws and regulations in the work environment.
Occupational hygienists assess health risks in a workplace; sample air to determine if there are harmful substances present; measure noise levels in factories; supervise the safe removal of asbestos from buildings; and provide practical advice on how workers can be protected from job-related health and safety risks.
HOW CAN YOU BECOME AN OCCUPATIONAL HYGIENIST?
Education, training and experience are all important aspects of an occupational hygienist’s career. Education can be obtained through formal undergraduate or postgraduate degrees, training can be gained by taking specialised courses, and experience can be achieved by working in the field.
Registration in one of the professional grades is an important requirement to following a career in occupational hygiene. The Southern African Institute for Occupational Hygiene (SAIOH) controls this registration in the Southern African region. The SAIOH registration procedures fully meet the international requirements of the International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA)
With support and backing of the IOHA, an innovative and highly professional set of training modules have recently been developed and launched by the Occupational Hygiene Training Association (OHTA). The OHTA website, http://www.ohlearning.com/, provides a detailed explanation of these modules. Thirteen national occupational hygiene organisations, including those in the USA, UK, Australia and of course South Africa, have already accepted these training modules as an important element in the career path of those wishing to obtain professional registration as an Occupational Hygienist.
“STUDY MATERIAL” FOR THE SAIOH WRITTEN ASSESSMENTS
Assessments at the Occupational Hygiene Technologist and Hygienist level, be it Written or Oral, are both based on testing your ability to apply your OH knowledge, especially the technical side of Occupational Hygiene.
For OH Assistant assessments we recommend you read the Occupational Hygiene Fundamentals/Foundation module available (free of charge) on the OHTA Website:  www.OHLearning.com;
For OH Technologist assessments we recommend you read the other 8 modules on the OHTA Website:  www.OHLearning.com;
For Occupational Hygiene assessments we suggest looking at the IOHA Knowledge and Competency Requirements document, the OHSAct and its Regulations (SA).
SHOULD YOU BE QUALIFIED AS AN OH TO TAKE READINGS OF NOISE, LUX, AIR QUALITY AND WATER QUALITY?
Training in OH Stressor Measurements are provided by Approved OH Training Providers, e.g. UKZN, HOHL and Poltech. More detail on SAIOH approved Occupational Hygiene Courses and the ATP’s are available on the International OHTA Website:  www.OHLearning.com
Personnel employed by a Corporate / Company can take OH Stressor measurements if they are trained and certified at least as an OH Assistant with SAIOH, but only for the Company that employs them and all their work must be invigilated and signed off by a Certified Occupational Hygienist (SAIOH).
Contractors / Consultants that want to do Occupational Hygiene services / surveys must be accredited as a Department of Labour OH AIA. (See the DoL Website:  www.labour.gov.za for the AIA guidelines)
These OH Approved Inspection Authorities must be accredited by SANAS according to SANS 17020 and everybody working for such an AIA doing Occupational Hygiene measurements has to be certified by SAIOH at the required OH level, and managed by a certified occupational Hygienist (SAIOH).
The SAIOH Certification procedures, requirements and application forms are available on the SAIOH website:  www.saioh.co.za
HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED IN OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AFTER FINISHING YOUR DIPLOMA?
If you are studying for a National Diploma in Environmental Health, you will be a likely candidate for a career in Occupational Hygiene.
You can apply for a position as an OH Assistant
You can also undergo the assessments for OH Assistant through the tertiary institution you are studying at. This will make you more marketable.
You can also attend SAIOH Branch meetings in your area. Details of these are published on the SAIOH Website or you can contact info@saioh.co.za for more details.
IS THE INTERMEDIATE CERTIFICATE EQUIVALENT TO A NATIONAL DIPLOMA (NQF LEVEL 6)?
SAIOH is not a tertiary education institution or a legal entity like SAQA, and therefore does not recognise and / or approve any qualifications.
SAIOH is however a SAQA accredited Professional Registration Body (the SAIOH PCB) .  The minimum qualification requirements to undergo the SAIOH certification process are degrees and diplomas from tertiary institutions as well as professional qualifications as approved by SAQA and international bodies, e.g. the Intermediate and Advance MEC certificates, OHTA’s ICertOH, etc.
We suggest you contact SAQA to validate the Intermediate MEC’s status and NQF level vs. the National Diploma’s.
WHERE DO THE WRITTEN AND ORAL ASSESSMENTS TAKE PLACE?
Written and Oral assessments are held in Midrand (Gauteng), Durban (KZN), Cape Town (W Cape), Port Elizabeth (E Cape) and Bloemfontein (Free State). Written assessments can also be held at other training venues provided the training Institute establishes contact with us, allowing you to write at their premises under their supervision and that they then return the completed assessment paper to SAIOH.

CAN I HAVE AN EXAM PAPER REVIEW?
QUESTION
Is it possible to have an exam paper review in terms of the SAIOH board exams that we do? For example, if a technologist writes an exam, would it be possible for the technologist and an examiner to go over the paper in order to see where they went wrong?
ANSWER
Due to the large number of papers written at each examination session (over 100 papers per session), and in fairness to candidates writing at all levels, individual discussions and feedback are not economical or practical on such a large scale, especially considering that the PCB committee members are all volunteers and have full time jobs outside of the work they do on behalf of SAIOH.  This option is available on request for candidates but SAIOH will charge a fee to cover the expenses of the PCB member performing the session and associated administrative costs.
This being said, it is an important step in the growth and maturity of the SAIOH assessment system and the PCB committee now reviews all assessed papers at Technologist and Hygienist level to identify trends and specific topic questions where the main problems / failures occur. This allows us to look carefully at the questions and model answers and modify these if required but, more importantly, to select these as a basis for the development of short information guides, webinars, referral to specific information sources and workshop topics allowing members to gain the necessary understanding and practice where this is lacking.
The new self-assessment model acts as a detailed syllabi enabling candidates at each level to fully understand the scope of knowledge and practice required to successfully meet the grade requirement. This new scheme will include a mentorship model and your mentor will also be an excellent source of guidance to help you to understand what and how to improve your skills in the field of Occupational Hygiene.
OCCUPATIONAL HYGIENE / HEALTH BOOKS
QUESTION
Can SAIOH please investigate the possibility of establishing a platform where Occupational Hygiene / Health related books can be purchased? Books like the TLV booklets, The dose makes the poison, Managing Occupational Health, the SIMRAC books and more?
ANSWER
SAIOH is looking into this through a number of means including memorandums of understanding with various international sister organisations.
ALTERNATIVES TO GENERATE FUNDS
QUESTION
Did SAIOH investigate alternative means to generate funds other than from their members and exhibitions at conferences? Posters, training material, law books, training sessions etc.
ANSWER
Membership and Assessment fees are our main but not the only sources of income and revenue for SAIOH. Conferences and Branch Workshop also ensure a steady revenue stream for SAIOH. Recently we also added our merchandise, which we expect to sell through our branches and our online store. In the near future we will also add Occupational Hygiene handbooks and manuals to our list of products to be sold online or by means of direct ordering
CPD POINTS AND ALLOCATION
QUESTION
With regards to the open category in CPD points system – What typically goes in there, who determines point allocation, who determines the worthiness of the submission and when are these counted towards the CPD point’s total?
ANSWER
The open category (10) in the list of activities for OH practice states: PCB will determine validity and point’s value. If a claim is made in this category the claim will be discussed by the PCB committee at the first meeting thereafter and a decision will be made regarding acceptability and points awarded. The applicant will be advised where appropriate.
SPECIALISING IN A PARTICULAR FIELD VS A PARTICULAR OH DESIGNATION
QUESTION
Is there a system for declaring a person as a specialist in one field if they do not work or do not intend to work as generalists in OH? I have attended an assessment where the person was exceptionally knowledgeable in noise (way above and beyond SANS 10083 type surveys), but did not have very good knowledge of other fields of OH. However, at the time the person’s field of work was strictly confined to noise (company specialised in noise). Furthermore, the person indicated that the only reason for taking the SAIOH assessment was to obtain registration to assist in establishing an accredited AIA, specifically for noise. The person failed the assessment based on poor knowledge on general OH concepts, whereas if it was based on noise alone, the person would have received 100%. My suggestion is that, in such cases, instead of registering a person as an ROHT or ROH, the person should rather be registered as a Specialist in Noise etc. and be allowed to conduct OH practice in that specific field / specialty under an AIA.
ANSWER
This is a situation that has been considered over many years but is very difficult to implement in practice. SAIOH is a member of the IOHA, the world body for OH. Our Certification process is accredited by the world body to set standards in line with other international associations and we have to meet minimum registration knowledge and competence of our practitioners in line with acceptable standards of practice. The practice of OH covers a wide variety of stressors, and formal OH qualifications include these subjects. In ignoring the holistic nature of our profession are we in fact registering an OH? A big concern in registering specialists was that a person purely interested in a single topic such as noise could miss or omit important advice to a client on what could be a more serious and safety critical issue such as a chemical exposure of concern. In addition to the holistic approach worries the specialist now has to consider the SANS 17020 accreditation required to register as an AIA. I believe this could in fact make a single specialty more viable as the accreditation is specified on the SANAS certificate and then on the AIA certificate and would offer better control. A problem in the early days when SAIOH (Then known as IOHSA) tried this, single skill practitioners were found to be selling and performing other surveys once registered. The SAIOH council will add this issue to our present minutes and the Liaison minutes for DoL and STC going forward, we will also bench mark against other international OH organisations and certification schemes but it is important that we do any research and document outcomes in a professional manner.
CLAIMING CPD POINTS WHEN NOT PRACTISING
QUESTION
What happens if you are not able to practice OH but safety instead due to being retrenched, or temping job only caters for safety. You can talk OH during induction and do observations but no monitoring takes place?
This is a problem I have as the 2014 CPD points need to be completed.
ANSWER
SAIOH is in the process of updating its procedures to provide for a members wanting to take a sabbatical for whatever reason or who move into different careers, so that these persons can still retain SAIOH membership with certification being “frozen” if you like. Should the person wish to return to active OH practice, then the PLP system that SAIOH is busy implementing will come into play to ensure that the individual has retained the necessary skills to continue with active OH practice.

 


 

 

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