We have progressed into a new year and with hope for a successful and innovative year based on inclusive collaboration of fair and equitable synergy.

We at Collision Repairers Association (CRA) have as with our members of the accident repair industry shown technique of survival of accredited service provision under extreme and at times challenging circumstance beyond equitable commercial protocol and the process of arbitral interpretation.

Not to say that we are not in support of transformation which aims to help marginalised entrepreneurs and workers in a developing market to move from a position of vulnerability to security and economic self-sufficiency. By offering them first preference of procurement structures brings particular benefits to them. It also mobilises awareness, however, preferential support of splinter groups vying for opportunity with rights but lack of acumen in appreciation of compliance or qualified/accredited standards dictated through enforcement in Service Level Agreements are not applied. This has negative outcomes to consumers to base decisions on trust and charity rather than solely on market competition.

It underlines the thinking that specifically Insurers are responsible for their actions in a sphere wider than that covered by the mere profit-and-loss statement in that social responsibility requires a response to needs defined outside the business operations, but not necessarily without the participation of the business. In that sense customer satisfaction is a business organisation’s configuration of principles of social responsibility, processes of social responsiveness, and policies, programmes and observable outcomes as they relate to societal relationships.

Insurers are taking on practices which is believed to be of a cost-cutting nature, however, the underlying risk associated with repair standards and compliance are ignored. In this instance we refer to as an example where enforced contractors have access to our workshops and no guarantee of understanding of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and liability insurance. We as the MBR industry cannot be seen to be paying premiums for coverage of these risks in the market of margin squeeze as is the case.

In more detail we refer to the OHS Act and more specifically to sections 8 and 37 of importance, but not limited thereto and the severity of fines for non-compliance and CRA are of opinion it is now time for extension of compliance and standards and protection of the SMME risk. For reference an extract of a portion of these conditions for perusal and quick understanding is provided.

Section 8 of the OHS Act clearly sets forth and imposes legal duties on an employer, which include but not limited to the following:

Every employer shall provide and maintain, a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of his employees.

establishing, what hazards to the health or safety of persons are attached to any work which is performed

taking all necessary measures to ensure that the requirements of this Act are complied with by every person in his employment or on his premises under his control where plant or machinery is used

enforcing such measures as may be necessary in the interest of health and safety.

In summary the responsibilities of the employer or company are not limited to their employees, but include those who might be affected by the work conducted by the employer or the company and any work conducted by external parties that might affect the safety and health of the employees.

Section 37 of the OHS Act states that in certain circumstances, liability can shift from the employer to the employee, or any other party with whom an agreement is concluded.

Section 37(2) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act refers to a mandatory written contractual agreement entered between a client and a contractor in terms of work and/or services to be provided, subject to the terms and conditions of the Mandatory Agreement (enforced by the Insurer SLA and which MBRs are required to complete.)

The agreement states that the client has put in place certain health and safety rules and regulations in order to ensure compliance on site, and that it is the prerogative of the client to expect all contractors to adhere to these rules and regulations.

The continued escalation by Insurers of the increase in contracted suppliers having to perform their duties in our workspace other than their own is of high risk to the indemnity and liability impeached on our member business and the compliance within the framework of accredited standards. The Motor Body Repairer can thus not be held accountable for quality, guarantee and performance through enforced contractor bias for self-preserved objectives.

Should your directed contractor not be in a position to provide a Letter of Good Standing in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, Act No. 130 of 1999 (COIDA) and a task specific risk assessment that details tasks and tools of the trade certified for job specific function as endorsed by the relevant OEM in their recommended repair methods we have no obligation to allow for access to the workshop. Further they need to assure our member of responsibility and accountability of damage incurred in their task and have sufficient evidence of insurance cover as a back-up.

CRA are of opinion that the detail of importance is acknowledged and we are provided with the assurance of amicable protection of our members’ interests and rights.

It is time we take recognition of the need to apply better and amicable trading conditions through responsibility of protocol generally enforced but hardly ever agreed on via industry pre-implementation forum for equitable appreciation.

In summary consideration for applying better intent for the importance of support and necessary service provider collaboration can be summarsed in ten principles of proactive synergy:

Principle One:  Acknowledgement of Qualified and Accredited Standard

Principle Two:  Transparency and Accountability

Principle Three: Fair trading practices

Principle Four:  Payment of a fair price

Principle Five:  Commitment to non discrimination, gender equity and freedom of association with the premise of social empowerment

Principle Six: Creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged business owners

Principle Seven:  Ensuring good working conditions for safe occupational prospect.

Principle Eight:  Stimulating efficiency through capacity building

Principle Nine:  Fair and equitable responsibility to level the playing field

Principle Ten:  Respect for recycling, re-use, repair and support of the environment.