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ISO 45001 and Training: Moving Beyond Attendance Sheets

Managing training and competency within an organization can often become a challenge. Many companies rely too heavily on signed attendance sheets as proof of training and competence. However, it is crucial to break down training and competency into simpler, more focused components.

Firstly, let’s explore why employees need training in the first place. One of the main drivers is the inclusion of training in risk assessments as a control measure. For example, appropriate training can reduce the risk of manual handling injuries. Other factors necessitating training include updates to legislation, documentation requirements, and corrective actions resulting from incident investigations or emergency planning.

Once the training needs are identified, the real work begins. It involves arranging suitable training locations, ensuring competent trainers, and providing relevant training materials. But what happens after the training session? Relying solely on an employee’s signature on a training record is a bare minimum requirement and does not provide a comprehensive assessment of their knowledge and skills.

To evaluate employees’ knowledge effectively, it is essential to plan training courses with clear objectives and conduct post-training evaluations. While not every course may require an evaluation, many do. The ability to determine which courses necessitate evaluations is crucial.

Positive feedback from course evaluations indicates that the training was relevant, the instruction and venue were satisfactory, and the attendees acquired the necessary knowledge. However, this is still not the complete picture. Two more factors must be considered: behavior change and competence.

Behavior change is a primary objective of training. We want our employees to acquire new knowledge, apply it in their work, and adopt new or modified behaviors as required. Additionally, assessing competence is vital. Competence, defined legally, means that an employee possesses the appropriate education, knowledge, and experience to perform their duties effectively.

Unfortunately, many companies implement training programs each year without clear links to the risk assessment process or other specific requirements. These programs can sometimes feel like a random collection of training courses. While assessments and evaluations may be conducted for certain courses, follow-up sessions to determine if behavior changes have occurred are often overlooked. Assessing competence is where many organizations stumble. While it requires time and effort, proper management in this area yields significant benefits, including compliance with legislation that mandates employers to ensure their employees are “competent.”

Let’s consider what ISO 45001 requires in terms of competence (Clause 7.2):

  • The organization must demonstrate the necessary competence of workers that affects or can affect occupational health and safety (OH&S) performance.
  • Workers must be deemed competent, which includes the ability to identify hazards, based on appropriate education, training, or experience.
  • The organization should take actions to acquire and maintain the necessary competence, including hiring or contracting competent individuals where applicable.
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of these actions must be conducted, and appropriate documented evidence of competence should be retained.

Training is undoubtedly important, but keeping track of who needs training, who has been trained, who missed training, and the status of your training plan can be a daunting task. However, it’s crucial to step back and examine your training process, ensuring you have a well-structured system in place that focuses on competence.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Keep it simple, but make sure you meet the necessary requirements.

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