HSE Chief Backs Certification for Safety Consultants

Chair Judith Hackitt said last week that her agency recognizes the need for accreditation to ensure consultants meet appropriate standards of professional competence but also said her agency is not interested in administering such a program.

Some sort of accreditation or certification for British safety and health consultants, known as advisers, is needed, Health and Safety Executive Chair Judith Hackitt said last week, but she also said the agency is not interested in administering such a program. Hackitt supported accreditation in a speech she gave at an International Institute of Risk and Safety Management in London, HSE reported on July 3.

"We do believe that there is a need for an accreditation system within the competency framework for health and safety professionals. We have no interest in HSE directly controlling or regulating such a scheme, but we are very keen to ensure that all professional bodies who establish an accreditation scheme do so in a way that measures competence in practice, not just acquired knowledge,” she said. "Accreditation must include continuing professional development as a requirement, as well as a means of sanction, with real teeth, for anyone who acts unethically in their professional activities –- including providing inappropriate advice or guidance."

The recommendation fits with the new health and safety strategy for Great Britain announced recently by HSE, which stresses competence in risk management by professionals in the industry. Hackitt delivered a series of speeches last week outlining the importance of competence and how it should not be measured in terms of knowledge, but instead on the ability to apply it. One was the keynote address to the British Safety Council's conference, and another was a graduation ceremony organized by the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH).

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