Welcome Guest! The IOSH forums are a free resource to both members and non-members. Login or register to use them

Postings made by forum users are personal opinions. IOSH is not responsible for the content or accuracy of any of the information contained in forum postings. Please carefully consider any advice you receive.

Notification

Icon
Error

Options
Go to last post Go to first unread
thunderchild  
#1 Posted : 01 March 2018 12:16:58(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
thunderchild

Right, I have a situation where we have a number of people using tools that have been doing it all of their life hence the "since God was a boy". How do I evidence competency? Some will have served their apprenticeship many, many moons ago.

I was thinking I could create a questionnaire (of if anyone has one) plus the manager could do observation?? I have been told that the manager(s) at interview were confident they were safe to use the tool(s) which is great but doesn't help me evidence it. We are just talking hand power tools not specific bits of kit requiring training.

Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions????

Hsquared14  
#2 Posted : 01 March 2018 12:49:18(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Hsquared14

I would do it by manager observation using a questionnaire prompt to make sure they look for the right things.

hilary  
#3 Posted : 01 March 2018 13:10:08(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
hilary

However, before you do it by manager observation, you probably want to check that the manager is competent to do this assessment and have some qualifications or certification to that effect.

Ian Bell2  
#4 Posted : 01 March 2018 13:16:00(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Ian Bell2

Is this exercise necessary? How bad can it be if it goes wrong? A cv /employment history review might be sufficient.
thunderchild  
#5 Posted : 01 March 2018 13:23:55(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
thunderchild

We it could be quite bad if someone takes half his hand off with an angle grinder. Part of the investigation would be to evidence that the company were sure he was competent to use it and yes whilst past work history is evidence of that I would like to show that the company has shown some due diligance itself.

PS.......no one has taken half their hand of with an angle grinder.....;-)

Roundtuit  
#6 Posted : 01 March 2018 13:53:08(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

And for the full evidential trail a signed "trained trainer" certificate from "god as a boy" ;-)

Sorry I tend to get a bit infuriated by documented competency for everything.

At some stage the task/equipment was brand new, never been seen or used before so there were no training courses, trainers or certification. Someone learned the tool - that person showed others how they had used it, some improved the method whilst others developed bad practice and a few had accidents. They in turn showed others and we evolved from the stone age.

So after several clattered thumbs I finally learned to use a claw hammer (able to drive / remove nails without damage to myself or the work) and consider myself competent BUT I would never claim to be skilled.

Take a step back - why was the person hired? what were they hired to do? have they completed their probationary period? this to my mind is enough to demonstrate the company believes them competent.

Now if you introduce new tooling or techniques after that time then I would look to manufacturer/supplier training, signed off RA, or even a simple Tool Box Talk record of main points

boblewis  
#7 Posted : 01 March 2018 18:27:02(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
boblewis

Strictly speaking God was never a boy but Noah was a lad and this is a good enough length of time for me.  Remember the basics of competence = Skill Knowledge, Ability Training and Experience together with behaviour on the task.  All of this can be evidenced in interview, past work experience and observation by competent supervision

Charlie Brown  
#8 Posted : 01 March 2018 22:27:50(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Charlie Brown

If someone has been doing the job for a long time and that job necessitated the use of power tools then it would be natural to assume they have the necessary skills to do so but the employer still has a responsibility to ensure these employees are using said power tools correctly.

For instance, I have seen "old hands" and time served Service Engineers using grinders without guards on them because "they get in the way" which shows me that they are not actually competent to use them. Not because of lack of training, skills or experience but rather because of their attitude or behaviour as boblewis points out.

I don't have any problem with people not having a piece of paper to say they are competent and indeed I have managed semi skilled people who can use a grinder with the best of them but I think good practice would be to make casual observations of people in their work on an ongoing basis.

Also Thunderchild, I am sure you didn't mean to say people don't need to be trained to use power tools but it looks that way when you read it.

hilary  
#9 Posted : 02 March 2018 08:20:37(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
hilary

We had an incident where we trained the operator and he'd been using the tool on and off for six months, he had an accident because he was a moron (no, really) and then he sued claiming he'd never been trained.  Because we didn't have written evidence of the training and competence we didn't have a leg to stand on.  Therefore, it makes no difference whether we think this is OTT or namby pamby, the courts will ask for evidence and if you don't have it, you're up the creek without a paddle.

Zyggy  
#10 Posted : 02 March 2018 11:01:32(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Zyggy

Many years ago I was asked to represent my organisation at an Accident Prevention Group made up of a variety of people. At the inaugural lunch I was asked who I worked for & replied that I was with the Gas industry. I was told that she had recently had a visit from a Service Engineer to look at her boiler & then nearly choked on my quiche when she calmly asked if it was usual practice to find a gas leak with a lighted match! On getting back to the Depot & retelling the story, I was informed that many of the "old timers" would do this to try & locate a small escape! Suffice to say, there was nothing in the training programmes to indicate that this was an accepted method!!
Steve Granger  
#11 Posted : 02 March 2018 11:33:56(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Steve Granger

.... start from the begining..... simple educational strategy;

1. Establish what do you want them to be able to do. (I know it sounds simple - it is, but you need to start at the start not at the end....). Define it; be both specific and generic according to each role/equipment.

2. Set objective criteria you want to prove using measurable criteria), then, and only then

3. Define a) how best to educate and develop comptence and then, and only then

4. Determine the most suitable way of assessing both understanding and skill (through a combination of means).

In other words don't start with the assessment process that suits you, finish with it to suit both the learning and learner/ competence!

paul.skyrme  
#12 Posted : 04 March 2018 11:04:43(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
paul.skyrme

Have you not considered how much of an insult it is to question the competence of someone who has been propertly apprenticeship trained?

I'll tell you now, if I was working on site, and the H&S "person" came up to me and questioned my competence, they would have a two word answer, and I would be off home of my own volition, and they could go and whistle for getting the work done.

Kate  
#13 Posted : 04 March 2018 11:21:42(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Kate

Sorry, I can't agree with those 4 steps, Steve,

1 and 2 - yes, absolutely agree.

But then you need to assess their competence at the moment, and then do a gap analysis of what if anything they need to improve.

Only then do you know what education and training they may need.

Charlie Brown  
#14 Posted : 04 March 2018 12:28:48(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Charlie Brown

Sorry Paul but if I asked someone about their competence and I got that kind of response I would have to question their attitude. (granted though that some H&S people need lessons in how to approach things like this)

I was properly aprenticeship trained a long time ago, when aprenticeships were 5 years long and I don't think I would be insulted, probably mildly amused really.

On the other hand I have managed aprenticeship trained engineers and been appalled at their lack of knowlege or experience and seen them get bent out of shape when they have been asked if they knew how to do something.

Originally Posted by: paul.skyrme Go to Quoted Post

Have you not considered how much of an insult it is to question the competence of someone who has been propertly apprenticeship trained?

I'll tell you now, if I was working on site, and the H&S "person" came up to me and questioned my competence, they would have a two word answer, and I would be off home of my own volition, and they could go and whistle for getting the work done.

thanks 1 user thanked Charlie Brown for this useful post.
lorna on 28/03/2018(UTC)
paul.skyrme  
#15 Posted : 04 March 2018 15:00:48(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
paul.skyrme

You don't get to be an Engineer by doing an apprenticeship.

You wouldn't get the chance to discuss anything further, I'd be gone.

You don't take people on to do a job, then question if they are competent to do it.

You do all that first, then you let them do their job.

I'm not sure if it is an accurate quote, but there is something kicking aroung attributed to Steve Jobs:

“It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to to , We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

Charlie Brown  
#16 Posted : 04 March 2018 15:32:43(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Charlie Brown

Paul, sorry, my intention was not to bag you but rather, to show why I struggled to agree with your viewpoint.

Originally Posted by: paul.skyrme Go to Quoted Post

You don't get to be an Engineer by doing an apprenticeship.

(Plant fitters are commonly refered to as Service Engineers, it's a modern thing)

You wouldn't get the chance to discuss anything further, I'd be gone.

(If that was the attitude of an employee then probably for the best)

You don't take people on to do a job, then question if they are competent to do it.

(Possibly my own fault but I have at various times employed people to do a job and consequently found out they aren't competent despite them having all the papers and all the words)

You do all that first, then you let them do their job.

I'm not sure if it is an accurate quote, but there is something kicking aroung attributed to Steve Jobs:

“It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to to , We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

(Not a bad sentiment but not entirely appropriate since we are not talking about telling people what to do but rather, establishing their ability to do)

A Kurdziel  
#17 Posted : 05 March 2018 09:56:06(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

I think that this needs to be done gently. You definitely need evidence that they are doing it the right way (not using a lighted match to find gas leaks!) but that evidence need not consist of a certificate issued  by some training organisation, which probably runs out a PortaKabin on an office park in Nuneaton.

What you need is culture of toolbox talks where people discuss how they actually do things, let them take the lead (don’t tell them how to do their job; give them an opportunity to explain to you and their colleagues how they do it). They can then decide if they are competent.    

thanks 2 users thanked A Kurdziel for this useful post.
Charlie Brown on 05/03/2018(UTC), Dave5705 on 13/03/2018(UTC)
hilary  
#18 Posted : 05 March 2018 12:08:59(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
hilary

The world changes, when some of these engineers trained, the health and safety of the UK was in its infancy.  They may not have worked with machine guards, extraction units, COSHH controls, DSEAR, etc and all the things we take for granted as H&S practitioners today.  Therefore, yes, they are competent at the time they served their apprenticeship but are they still working in the same way as they did then or have they moved with the times and taken on board all the changes?

Competency is not just about using the tool, it's about using the tool safely or using new technology like laser printers, bar code readers, induction loop heaters, etc which definitely weren't around in the "good old days".  I'm not suggesting an external certificate either but a training card signed by the trainer or observer and employee and retained on site will give everyone the peace of mind and evidence that may be required further down the line in the event of an accident.

Roundtuit  
#19 Posted : 05 March 2018 13:44:40(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

Why do competence discussions focus so firmly towards the tools and those using them?

They are not the only ones within a business who can suffer/inflict harm.

I drive a company car for which the generally accepted level of competence is to hold a full driving licence regardless of how long ago it was issued - no company training record/observer required by most

Yet despite this 2MT potential killing machine I am expected to have a training record to operate a desk top paper shredder

thanks 1 user thanked Roundtuit for this useful post.
A Kurdziel on 05/03/2018(UTC)
toe  
#20 Posted : 05 March 2018 23:00:15(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
toe

Originally Posted by: thunderchild Go to Quoted Post

Right, I have a situation where we have a number of people using tools that have been doing it all of their life hence the "since God was a boy". How do I evidence competency? Some will have served their apprenticeship many, many moons ago.

Just to back to the OP, my way around this is by conduction H&S audits/inspections (for example technicians working in a workshop) if I spot a person not working within the SSW, RA or industry good practice, then and only then would I question their competence. Otherwise, if staff are working safely during the audit/inspection and there are no accidents/incidents/non conformances then you can satisfy yourself they are competent. Note:  My audit/inspection is checking there H&S competence to work safely rather that there competence to fix a vehicle.  

Just the other day I caught and experienced mechanic buffing down a plastic number plate on an abrasive wheel (designed for metal) without wearing eye protection.

Edited by user 05 March 2018 23:01:46(UTC)  | Reason: Spelling

thanks 1 user thanked toe for this useful post.
Charlie Brown on 05/03/2018(UTC)
thunderchild  
#21 Posted : 06 March 2018 09:52:05(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
thunderchild

Thanks all for the replies. Definatly an intersting debate and something for me to work on.

firesafety101  
#22 Posted : 06 March 2018 16:12:56(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
firesafety101

I once attended a site and found a power cable to a portable drill in very poor condition and when I mentioned it to the electrition who was training an apprentice he agreed I could cut the cable off, which I did.

I told my MD who used that story many a time when meeting potential new clients.

Bottom line - the electrician was very well experienced with all relevant qualifications.

paul.skyrme  
#23 Posted : 27 March 2018 19:51:20(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
paul.skyrme

Originally Posted by: firesafety101 Go to Quoted Post

I once attended a site and found a power cable to a portable drill in very poor condition and when I mentioned it to the electrition who was training an apprentice he agreed I could cut the cable off, which I did.

I told my MD who used that story many a time when meeting potential new clients.

Bottom line - the electrician was very well experienced with all relevant qualifications.

Was this a 110V CTE construction site type supply?

hserc  
#24 Posted : 28 March 2018 13:07:53(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
hserc

I was trying to establish the competence of a person supervising another (definately not competent) "engineer" on a factory machine's gas supply valves. I was informed he was competent to do so.

After questioning it turned out the supervisor was CORGI registered back in the day (maybe 2004 or so), but never did anything since then, but still considered himself "competent".

I'm pretty sure he is not...

paul.skyrme  
#25 Posted : 28 March 2018 15:59:19(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
paul.skyrme

Originally Posted by: hserc Go to Quoted Post

I was trying to establish the competence of a person supervising another (definately not competent) "engineer" on a factory machine's gas supply valves. I was informed he was competent to do so.

After questioning it turned out the supervisor was CORGI registered back in the day (maybe 2004 or so), but never did anything since then, but still considered himself "competent".

I'm pretty sure he is not...

So presumably you are competent to assess him, and are thus GasSafe registered yourself?

Remember that the Gas Safety, Installation and Use Regulations have not changed sinde 1998, they are due for a re-vamp this year.

Much of the changes in requirements for gas work since 2004 have been in relation to ventilation, flues, OEM information, and some other things.

One thing which will not have changed, and will not change in the 2018 regulations is the requirement for the pipework and systems to be gas tight.  Just becuse he is no longer gas safe registered does not mean that his brain has had the section of training and ability to ensure that pipework and systems do not leak removed by physical means since he was last registered.  I know guys that have not worked on gas systems for 20+ years and they still know that they mustn't leak, and how to make a leak proof joint, and how to verify that the joint is not leaking.

Physics does not change with legislation and manufacturer inspired changes merely for profit remember.

He may have been useless and incompetent, but, just because someone hasn't been registered for something for a while, if they have been taught correctly, they don't automatically forget things.

The issues are that in the last 20 years training has been dumbed down and shortened so people are not adequately trained in the first place to undsrstand the underlying fundemental principles and science behind what they do and why they do it, to fast track their training, therefore they don't have the depth of knowledge to call upon.

pete48  
#26 Posted : 28 March 2018 19:23:53(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
pete48

If you are looking to evidence competence then I think you need four parts to your systems.

  1. A check against any and all relevant formal qualifications for the job including any updates or refreshers required since the original qualification. OR confirmation that no formal qualification is required for the work undertaken.
  2. A set of agreed, required practices/procedures outlining the work/job etc.
  3. Records of any work-related training specific to the work of the employer. That can be formal or on the job.
  4. And finally and perhaps most importantly on-going observed evidence/review of the proper achievement of specified tasks or application of skills and knowledge. Clearly the type and level of review/observation will vary widely according to the nature of the work undertaken. For example, a Supervisor may have an annual review but a hands on high risk task might require more frequent observation but both should be recorded as confirmation or correction as required. It should be a fundamental part of proper supervision and a key part of any operational Supervisor’s duties.

In my many years of experience it is part 4 that is most commonly missing at lower levels in the organisation and leads employers into the difficulties outlined by the O.P.

At a hands on task level it is very much about preventing the ‘creep’ in applied skills etc not about ‘training’ already skilled/competent people. Remember that the vast majority of semi and unskilled employees learn ‘on the job’ and that should be acceptable if there is adequate evidence of review which either confirms knowledge of proper practice and correct application of skills or it does not. If there is a need for correction /refreshers then that is also recorded as evidence of on-going in the job training.

Users browsing this topic
You cannot post new topics in this forum.
You cannot reply to topics in this forum.
You cannot delete your posts in this forum.
You cannot edit your posts in this forum.
You cannot create polls in this forum.
You cannot vote in polls in this forum.