ISO 45001:2018, the Occupational Health and Safety Management System standard was published in early March 2018. This is the fifteenth in a series of blogs, in which we describe what the implementing company must do in order to meet the requirement of the standard. We will now look at clause 7.2: Competence.
Clause 7.2: Competence
The organisation must determine the competence requirements for those workers that affect, or could affect, its OH&S performance. This requirement also pertains to workers operating under the control of the organisation such as contractors, agency workers, etc.
Once these competence requirements have been determined the organisation must then ensure that those workers possess the necessary competence, including the ability to identify hazards, on the basis of appropriate education, training or experience.
It is imperative that all workers have the knowledge and skills required to identify the hazards and manage the OH&S risks associated with their work and workplace.
If workers are deemed not to be competent, the organisation is required to take action (e.g. refresher/remedial training, recruitment of additional personnel or hiring/contracting of external expertise) in order to acquire the necessary competence. The actions taken to raise competence to the required level need to be evaluated for effectiveness by means of the following mechanisms:
- Interlocution of the workers on their understanding of their competence to perform the relevant tasks following the prescribed training;
- Assessment of competence of the workers by observing them undertake the relevant tasks following the prescribed training;
- Peer review or supervision following the required training.
The organisation must determine competence requirements for individual tasks and should consider the following factors in its deliberations:
- The education, training and experience required to undertake the role and the re-training necessary to maintain competence;
- The work environment;
- The preventive and control measures arising from the risk assessment process;
- The requirements applicable to the OH&S management system;
- The potential consequences of compliance and non-compliance, including the impact on the worker’s health and safety;
- The duties and responsibilities associated with the roles;
- The complexity and requirements of operating procedures and work instructions;
- The results from incident investigations;
- Legal and other requirements;
- The necessary updating of the competence made necessary by context or work changes;
- Individual capabilities, including experience, language skills, literacy and diversity.
The organisation should pay particular attention to the competency requirements attached to personnel performing the following tasks:
- Identifying hazards and conducting risk assessments;
- Conducting audits;
- Performing occupational exposure or noise assessments;
- Carrying out incident investigations;
- Performing tasks that have associated with them significant hazards and associated high risks.
When competence is acquired through training, the organisation’s training process should include:
- Identification of training needs;
- Preparation of a training plan or programme to address identified training needs;
- Delivery of the training;
- Evaluation of the effectiveness of the training;
- Documentation, monitoring and review of the training received.
Workers should be encouraged to assist the organisation in ascertaining the competence needed for their respective roles.
The organisation is required to retain appropriate documented information as evidence of its employees’ competence such as training records.