OSHA Workplace Education and Training Workplace Safety

The Link Between Occupational Safety And Competency

competency_and_health_and_safetyWhen one thinks about competency testing and other related assessments and audits, the first thing that comes to mind is middle-management, large corporations and ‘regulated’ type businesses. But what about those that need to take occupational hazards into account in the average workday?

Occupational safety is the crux of many jokes involving paper cuts and lawsuits, at least in the corporate world where danger is not part of the job description. For industries such as chemical manufacturing, nuclear, emergency services, medical and even construction however, the risks are of course, a bit more real.

With that in mind, the link between occupational safety and competency shouldn’t really be too hard to miss. The way that competency is gauged however, can be quite a bit trickier.

Competency Assessments, Accident Prevention and Safety in the Workplace

The examples (not to mention real, actual case studies) of potential disasters that can occur from a single human error are rather horrific. Just think back to all or any of the oil spills this past decade, or the gas explosions. Think about fires caused by unchecked equipment. Or cars that are rolled through the assembly line with faulty parts. Consider also toxins in food, wrongly labelled pharmaceuticals and medical malpractice. These few examples clearly demonstrate that quality management procedures and practices are clearly needed throughout business and manufacturing industries.

Training alone is not an instant prevention, nor a cure. In many cases, early assessments indicated that employees had agreed with questions even if they did not understand them fully. Others knew what the procedure said, but not why the procedure was drafted. Often, employees don’t want to admit knowledge gaps.

A comprehensive, proactive assessment is what is needed therefore, which can target accident prevention in ways such as the following:

  • Competency gaps and weaknesses can be identified before employees are put into high risk roles or assigned tasks, with such gaps resolved through relevant further training or supervision.
  • A clearer holistic view of the competencies required to perform tasks safely is presented to each employee, in order to develop these required skills with a better understanding of how they relate to the task or role at hand.
  • Unrealistic performance expectations from higher up management can also be revealed, and fitted to more suitable standards to ensure that pressure does not add to the risk level.
  • Training processes can be improved during testing too, in the case of poor competencies being presented as a result of lack of training material, time or suitable methodology.
  • Continual improvement can aid the work environment, by determining such gaps in various testing, training, understanding or performance factors.

Each industry of course will have their own standards to adhere to, with other procedures and policies in place to boost safety mechanisms. But at the end of the day, people are the tools that drive every business – this is why it is so essential to ensure that those people have the skills, tools and capabilities required to perform their demanding duties safely and properly.

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Guest AuthorChristopher Stainow is CEO of Lennoxhill, makers of isoTracker Quality Assurance System and is actively involved in ensuring quality in the business place.

Tess Taylor

Tess Taylor is the Founder and CEO of HR Knows

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