What safety practitioners do

Whilst preparing a course recently I was reminded of an IOSH report published in October 2005 which made me think a little differently about HSE Chair Judith Hackitt’s comments at the IOSH 2012 conference.

Speaking as part of a panel debate she urged delegates “Your aim is to do yourself out of a job. Your job is to make everyone as passionate about health and safety as we are. Once we have done that, our job is done. But we do that by motivating them, not by burdening them with paperwork, or boring them with tedium.”

The 2005 report, entitled What practitioners do – a survey of UK Registered Safety Practitioners to determine their roles and tasks, detailed the UK involvement in a European-wide study into the role of occupational safety and health practitioners. 1,621 Registered Safety Practitioners from the UK took part.

The study established the diversity and complexity of the role of the safety practitioner and highlighted the most commonly and frequently performed tasks. The authors were encouraged to note that amongst these were not only the more traditional functions but a significant number of management system, safety culture and safe behaviour-related issues and high levels of activity with regard to informing and discussing.

Of the 37 core tasks, many were consistent with Judith Hackitt’s plea and indeed half of the top 10, involved informing and discussing type activities.

The implications of the report and of Judith Hackitt’s comments for health and safety training and for the training of practitioners in particular are clear. Technical training alone is not enough. Perhaps as important, is soft-skills training especially in communication, coaching and mentoring skills.

If you wish to receive a copy of the report please do not hesitate to drop me a line.

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