A common pitfall for many organisations managing training is that they rely to much on signed attendance sheets to demonstrate that someone is trained and competent. But we need to break training and competence into simple topics.
To begin with, why does the employee need training at all? There are key drivers here, the most typical is that risk assessment and more specifically risk controls will include training e.g., the risk of manual handling injury can be reduced by appropriate training. Other factors will be updated to legislation, documentation or corrective actions as part of incident investigations/emergency planning etc.
Once you know what training you have to deliver, the hard work begins trying to arrange the training and make sure the location to provide the training is adequate, the trainer is competent and the material is relevant. Press the start button, deliver the training and then what? If you are relying only on the signature of an employee on the training record, then this will demonstrate at a minimum that he or she has a pulse! Not much more.
The ability to plan training course with clear objectives and then have course evaluations post training is a key component of assessing the employees knowledge. Granted, not every course will require a course evaluation, but many will. Being able to decide which courses do is important.
At this point we can demonstrate that, with positive feedback, the course was relevant, the instruction and venue was ok and the knowledge was acquired by the attendee. But this is still not the full story. We need to look at two more factors: behavior change and competence.
Behavior change is one reason we want to provide training. We want our employees to acquire new knowledge and apply this knowledge and adopt new or modified behaviors as required. But we must also ensure that they are competent. Competence has a legal definition, it means that an employee has the appropriate education, knowledge and experience to perform their duties.
In truth I feel that many companies put in place training programs each year but sometimes they are not clearly linked back to the risk assessment process or other clear, specific requirements. They can appear to be an assorted collection of training courses. Assessments might be done for certain courses and evaluations reviewed, but the follow up sessions to determine if a change in behavior actually happened rarely happens. But when it comes to assessing competence, this is where the bullets are really being dodged. Yes, it takes time and effort to do this properly, and if it is not managed properly then it can becomes very difficult to manage. But done properly, it will deliver huge benefits, not least is compliance with most legislation which has a minimum requirements upon employers to ensure that employees are ‘competent’.
What the ISO 45001 requires:
Clause 7.2 Competence of the ISO 45001 standard requires each organisation to:
- Demonstrate the necessary competence of workers that affects or can affect OH&S performance
- Ensure that workers are competent (including the ability to identify hazards) on the basis of appropriate education, training or experience, and
- Where applicable, take actions to acquire and maintain the necessary competence, and evaluate the effectiveness of the actions taken (this can include hiring or contracting competent persons)
- Retain appropriate documented information as evidence of competence.
Training is important. Keeping track of who is trained, who needs to be trained, who missed training and the status of your training plan can be a real pain. But take a step back. Look at your training ‘process’ and make sure that you have a properly structured system in place that focusses on competence.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Keep it simple but make sure you are doing what is required.
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