Reflecting the findings of an extensive research project to ensure alignment with the needs of employers, as well as national and international standards and policies, the framework sets out 69 competencies across three categories, making it the most comprehensive competency framework for the OSH profession.
Professional standards for safety and health at work builds on all areas of the previous competency framework for Blueprint 1.0. During a six-month project, IOSH held focus groups and in-depth interviews with employers as well as a representative sample of IOSH members. Insight from these groups was combined with analysis of 250,000 data sets from more than 10,000 Blueprint 1.0 users in 111 countries.
Rapid change in the workplace is driving the need for a broader set of competencies. The research revealed there are many factors influencing change, including increased business complexity, technology, the gig economy and constantly evolving business processes. As a result, IOSH recognised the need for OSH professionals to possess both soft and business skills to complement their technical skills and equip them to influence and drive change at all levels.
"In line with IOSH's Work 2022 strategy to enhance the occupational safety and health profession, we are committed to equipping OSH professionals with the skills, knowledge and behaviours they need. The updated competency framework is an essential step towards building capability in the profession" said Duncan Spencer, head of advice of practice, IOSH.
Almost half of the 69 competencies (34) are technical, highlighting the importance of OSH professionals understanding legislation, policy, risk management, incident management and the effect of health, safety and welfare on people. However, additional technical competencies have been added to the framework to reflect changes in the modern workplace, such as expertise in sustainability, ethical practice, human capital and community impact.
Seventeen are core competencies, covering the set of skills necessary to support and enable good decision-making. The remaining 18 competencies are behavioural, focused on building professionalism and enabling career opportunity.
Developing OSH policies that are consistent with business strategies, establishing and delivering effective quality management processes and designing and implementing audits are a few of the eight core competencies under 'health and safety law'.
'Risk management' covers technical competencies such as horizon scanning for changes within the sector, controlling risk by developing mitigation strategies and establishing OSH risk reporting systems that align with the structure of an organisation. In total there are nine competencies under 'risk management'.
'Incident management', which is made up of five competencies, includes the ability to apply procedures to deal with incidents of differing severity, prepare reports to meet organisational standards on incidents and being able to identify the full range of documentary evidence that would support a legal defence.
Technical competencies such as employee welfare and understanding the needs of vulnerable workers fall under 'culture'. While culture is a product of the design and implementation of a safety management system, the seven competencies provide the means to assist the development of a positive one.
'Sustainability' includes supporting the development and delivery of social sustainability programmes, identifying ethical issues that could compromise safety and health practice and playing a leading role in the financial sustainability of an organisation. There are five competencies under 'sustainability'.
'Strategy', which is made up of seven competencies, covers skills influencing internal and external stakeholders, building long-term relationships and leading and contributing to an organisation's strategic direction.
'Planning' covers setting realistic objectives, effectively managing the collection and organisation of data and making decisions on strategic and tactical issues. In total there are four competencies under planning.
Six core competencies such as creating a positive working environment and demonstrating confidence and resilience to deliver on the health, safety and welfare requirements across a business come under the category of 'Leadership and management'.
'Stakeholder management' covers three behavioural competencies such as negotiating solutions and being the 'trusted advisor' by demonstrating consistency, discipline and integrity.
Behavioural competencies such as self-motivation, problem-solving and developing fresh approaches to innovative and creative ways of working make up the six competencies under 'personal performance'.
The 'communication' section covers four behavioural competencies such as actively listening to other views and perspectives, providing constructive feedback and inspiring others to take responsibility for keeping themselves and others safe.
Honesty, transparency and ethical behaviour, showing empathy towards others and ensuring coaching and mentoring opportunities are provided to support wider learning are the five competencies under 'working with others'.
"IOSH's competency framework will have a game-changing impact on the profession," said Karl Simons, chief health, safety and security officer at Thames Water. "The need for us to have wider skills and behaviours beyond technical ability, and to understand what that means for business, is vital."
The release of the updated competency framework will be followed in 2020 by the launch of an enhanced suite of practical tools, including a new CPD scheme, new technical guides and a free Career Hub for members, with access to thousands of learning resources and career planning tools, according to IOSH.
"It is critical that safety professionals have their voice heard in the boardroom, now more than ever," commented Neil Lennox, head of group safety and insurance at Sainsbury's. "To do that, we need people to join our profession who can share the message that 'good safety is good business' and clearly articulate how we contribute to corporate governance and profitability."