Professional Incompetence: The Construction Killer

Western Cape, South Africa; 22 February 2023: Incompetence of professionals
in construction is a matter of life or death. This was the hard-hitting message of
the South African Council for the Project and Construction Management
Professions (SACPCMP), speaking at the 2023 National Occupational Health and
Safety Conference presented by the Department of Employment and Labour in
Cape Town this week.
“It is important to realise the sheer danger of incompetence to the boots on the
ground at a construction site”, said Ms. Sindi Kwenaite, the SACPCMP’s
Executive: Operations, who spoke at the OHS Conference. “In many cases, the
construction workforce is a modern pioneer … working in remote, inhabitable
environments to create safe, habitable environments for others. So, the question
arises, who keeps them healthy and safe?”
Kwenaite addressed OHS conference-goers on the importance of competence to
ensure professionalism within the construction health and safety sector. Noting
the massive risks faced by those working in the construction sector, she said that
construction workers faced extreme environments and, in many instances, under
horrendous conditions. Coupled to such hazards were risks of harassment and
violence for the female workforce.
“This sector needs competent professionals who are driven to achieve healthy and
safe construction sites. Not every occupation has the risks of falls, being caught in
or between objects, machinery or equipment, electrocutions, and being struck by
an object as frequently as in construction. Expertise and a special understanding
of this environment are required to ensure that the construction workforce is
protected as well as the public around construction sites,” she said.

The recent disasters faced by communities in the Northern Hemisphere following
earthquake devastation brought this message forth even more: “Watching
buildings crumble like sandcastles following the recent earthquakes brought into
sharp focus the importance of competence and professional ethics in the
professions responsible for the construction of infrastructure and buildings that
people use, live in, and through which they attempt to eke out a living for
themselves and their communities. This also extends to the competence required
throughout the phases of construction, which impact the workforce, and may
ultimately impact on quality.”
Kwenaite noted that the SACPCMP had recently reviewed the way in which it
measured and assessed competence for construction professionals. The Council
has established mechanisms to establish whether or not a person is capable of
providing the services required and, while so doing, protecting the public.
“A little over a year and a half ago, we embarked on a journey to develop
competency standards and frameworks for all its professions. Our approach was
to move away from the reliance on peer review,” she said. “Looking at the required
competencies of the Construction Sector, the move ensures a common language
and understanding of standards to conduct competency assessments in a
structured way. This competency modelling conveys ability, personal
characteristics, skills, knowledge, and behaviour, to ensure an assessment
process that is objective and inclusive.”
In addition, the SACPCMP has also included three additional competencies to
ensure responsiveness to socio-economic issues. These are Diversity, Equity and
Inclusion (the ability to work effectively with people from different backgrounds,
culture, gender, race, ethnic origin, age etc); Sustainable Development and
Environmental Protection (to embrace environmental, social and economic
objectives to deliver long-term equitable growth that benefits current and future
generations); and Leading Digitization (to stay abreast of digital trends to leverage
new digital technologies and optimize their application).

“The professionalisation of the Construction Health and Safety Professions is a matter of life and death,” said Kwenaite in closing her address. “Families have
been left destitute after losing their sole bread winners because enough was not done to keep them healthy and safe at work. These tragedies cannot be ignored
and those who are assessed as competent are required to work according to a high ethical standard. They are the champions of the health and safety of construction workers, and they are what this sector needs.”

For more information or media interviews, contact:
The South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions
Natasha van der Berg: SACPCMP Stakeholder Relations and Communications
Email: [email protected]

About the SACPCMP
The South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP) is empowered by
section18 of Act No.48 of 2000 to certify, register and regulate the Project and Construction Management Professions. The
SACPCMP registers professionals in 14 categories under the Construction Project Management, Construction Health and
Safety and Building Inspector sectors.
For more information on the SACPCMP, visit
To register with the SACPCMP, visit (Construction Health and Safety) or (Construction Project Management) or (Building Inspectors).
For general SACPCMP-related queries, please email: [email protected]
Connect with us via:
Twitter: @SACPCMP
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LinkedIn: @SACPCMP Company