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Health and Safety Policy and Practice - Competency

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Health and Safety Policy and Practice BSc (Hons) Health and Environment Arguably, the concept of 'competence' is embedded in all Health and Safety Statute and associated guidance. However, presently, there is no formal definition of this concept and the onus is placed on the relevant duty holder to define competence against the Health and Safety issues and activities managed in their organisations. Consequently, define and discuss the aspect of 'competence' within the Health and Safety arena, using examples and case studies as appropriate to support your submission. Contents Introduction Page 3 The history of health and safety Page 3 Robens report Page 4 The role of the European Union Page 6 The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 Page 6 Safe systems of Work - Figure 1 Page 8 Case law and competency Page 9 External accreditation Page 9 Competency within the health and safety arena Page 10 Factors affecting competency Page 10 Promoting a positive safety culture - Figure 2 Page 13 Conclusion Page 14 Appendix Page 15 Bibliography Page 22 References Page 24 Introduction The aim of this report is to appreciate the diverse issues associating the link between Health and Safety, and organisations that manage this, in essence, effectively controlling risks and harm that could occur to individuals within the work place. The report will also consider competency, within the Health and Safety arena, and examine factors that may influence its efficacy. The concept of competence is inferred throughout current health and safety legislation; however, this is of a non-specific comportment, furthermore, the term 'incompetent' is more widely recognised, however when researching the definition of competent or competency the precincts are less easily defined. Every person who works needs some level of competence, conversely, as to how much is required, is dependant on their role and responsibility within an organisation. However, there are limits to the performance that an organisation can achieve, without addressing the contributions that human factors have to play in eliminating occupational accidents and ill health. ...read more.


External accreditation It could be questioned as to whether competence schemes should be externally accredited, giving the scheme a recognised mark of approval with the implied confidence that this gives to the public, customers and regulators. However, the risk is that the accreditation authority may well concentrate more on the administrative procedures rather than achieving effective competence and that the responsibility for ensuring competence may become distorted. It is a controversial point as to how much liability would be taken on by a third party in the event of an accident. Competence within the Health and Safety arena Competence plays an exceptionally important role in controlling health and safety risks. Risk control systems rely on a multifaceted mix of: 1. Hardware, for example automatic guards and cut offs on machinery. 2. Software, for example planned maintenance, competent employees, adequate supervision, safety rules, training and information. 3. Human factors, for example safety culture. 4. Safety management systems. The role of people in controlling is central to present guidance, whilst this is important in normal situations, it is essential in abnormal and emergency situations. The Hazard Forum Guidelines (2007) state that for a person to be competent, they require 'qualifications, experience, and qualities appropriate to their duties' these include: 1. Training as would ensure acquisition of the necessary knowledge of the field for the tasks that they are required to perform. 2. Knowledge and understanding of the working practices used within the organisation for which they work. 3. Adequate knowledge of the hazards and failures of the equipment for which they are responsible. 4. Has the ability to communicate effectively with their peers, and with any staff member who is working under their supervision, and with their supervisors. In addition, the HSE states that, 'for a person to be competent, they need qualifications, experience, and qualities appropriate to their duties.' (HSE, 2007) In essence, competence can only be determined by assessing the individual against the activities being managed, thus it is something that employers can only do within their organisations. ...read more.


Table 2 - Some illustrative major accidents due to human failure Source: Reducing Error, Influencing behaviour (HSG48) Figure 4 - Scaffolding collapse, Cardiff. Source: HSE (2007) Two building companies were fined a total of �320 000 after twelve storeys of scaffolding partially collapsed onto a road and railway in Cardiff. Nobody was hurt as the incident occurred late at night. The collapse, which happened in December 2000, caused major disruption as the road and railway were closed for five days. An HSE investigation identified a catalogue of errors, which contributed to the collapse: 1. The scaffold design was defective in certain areas. In particular, the design drawing for the scaffolders did not provide adequate information on the number, location, and make-up of the ties. 2. A decision was taken at site level by the contracts manager and scaffolder to change the design, without checking with the designer. This was because the design drawing supplied was poorly prepared and ambiguous. 3. Ninety-one anchor ties were installed, rather than the required 300. There were no drilled fixings in the topmost six meters of the scaffolding. 4. The principal contractor did not carry out checks on either the design of the scaffolding or the adequacy of the installation. A scaffolding register was not completed, nor was there a system for carrying out weekly inspections of the scaffolding. The number of ties installed was not checked at hand-over, nor had any been tested. 5. HSE inspector who led the investigation, said: 'This is the worst scaffold collapse I have investigated. It is only a matter of good fortune that nobody was injured. Had the incident happened during the daytime, the consequences could have been catastrophic.' 6. Since the incident, the principal contractor has re trained over forty engineers in the competency of scaffold inspection, and the scaffolding contractor has carried out a company wide retraining programme. On reflection, there are areas which can be criticised where human competency, coupled with a lack of knowledge, taking shortcuts and cutting costs, maybe responsible for the delude of this accident. ...read more.

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