As a health and safety practitioner you should manage your CPD (continual professional development) to help sustain your competence.
No practitioner or professional could rely only on once-off education and training, since science, workplace conditions, technology, best practice, legislation and market demands change, writes regional corporate health and safety advisor, Adrian Woon.
Professional Development is part of a structured approach to learning, which is characterised by these features;
 Self-directed, personal, and self-managed
 A documented process
 Focus on learning from experiences, observations and insights
 Consist of formal and informal learning
 Assist a practitioner in setting development goals and objectives.
CPD is an investment you make in yourself and in your practice. It can strengthen your professional credibility and boost confidence. With increased job satisfaction your working life will be more interesting.
When looking to appoint a health and safety professional, most employers, customers and recruiters want assurance that the applicant is suitably competent, including recognised qualifications, relevant experience, and evidence of CPD, such as research or conferences.
CPD process steps
To manage your CPD, Keep a diary or journal. Record your thoughts in detail or make notes on learning points, insights or observations.
Keep up to date with changes in legislation, technology, and methodologies. Discuss these themes with colleagues, and learn from others’ mistakes and the effects of corrective actions.
Calibrate your position in professional practice. Review and reflect on your learning experiences over the past. Document your insights, and how you might have done things differently.
Calibrate your goals. Write down your career goals in two, five and ten years’ time. Break these achievements down into manageable objectives, or stepping stones. Set time scales to the steps, and reward yourself when the milestones are achieved.
Determine what you need to do, and the order in which it needs to be done, to achieve your goals. Plan, Do, Reflect, and Review your own development. The frequency for reviewing your progress is up to you. Diarise this in advance to manage your CPD.
Types of CPD activity
There are different facets to CPD, such as education, training, learning on the job, learning from colleagues and specialists, formalised professional activities, your own research, and volunteer work experience.
• Creating, updating and reading procedural documents
• Creating and updating induction material for new employees
• Writing, updating and implementing action plans
• Creating and giving presentations to clients, regulators and policy makers etc
• Expanding your role.
• Further study, short courses, or distance learning
• Writing articles or papers
• Attending seminars or presentations
• Reading published articles
• Creating, developing and presenting training courses.
• Involvement in and contributing to the work of a professional body, such as membership meetings, or acting as a Mentor, Mentee, Examiner, Tutor or Assessor
• Acting as an expert witness
• Giving presentations at conferences
• Promoting the profession to others, formally or informally
• Networking with professionals in other organisations.
• Reading journals and articles
• Discussing books or articles with colleagues
• Updating knowledge by comparative internet research
• Keeping a diary or journal of your progress.
• Voluntary social work using your professional skills
• Develop leadership skills in particular jobs or projects
• Develop organisational and planning skills
• Improving finance skills
• Improving coaching and counseling skills.
As a member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH UK), I have access to a wide range of resources to assist me with my profession and to manage my CPD, such as a monthly journal, free download of documents, and a facility for online recording of my CPD activity.
At 155 pounds (UK) per year I consider this good value. However you cannot buy competence or professional development. CPD involves taking in additional or new knowledge, developing skills, and reflecting on what you have gained or achieved in practice.
When clients invite contractors to tender on projects, they issue a pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ). Under the section covering OHS, clients in the UK usually require that the person(s) performing the health and safety functions have membership with a recognised professional registration body.
All professions require practitioners to undertake CPD, and many require registration. Health and safety registration bodies also aim to keep current with legislation.
• Adrian Woon (NVQ 5 Diploma) is a regional Health and Safety Advisor at Schneider Electric in the UK. He is a Graduate Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (Grad IOSH UK).
==== Editor’s additional late comment; Some IOSH UK members are apparently unhappy with some aspects of the CPD they get. If that is not unusual in the wall to wall first world, then be afraid of CPD promises from the loose rugs or band-aid strips in South Africa.
==== Editor’s comment; In South Africa and in much of Africa, our general skills development suffers from the near complete breakdown of mentorship, transfer of learning, and organisational memory. Even the apprentice system applies only in some trades and professions.
This amnesia is due to disruptive changes to our education and training system in recent years; lack of investment by employers; lack of co-ordination between employers, labour, and education; high staff turnover; a global brain drain to more stable economies; and other factors.
In health and safety management we have the added disadvantage of lack of centres of excellence in research, technology, and tertiary traninng; lack of OHS modules in line management disciplines such as engineering, management, accounting and others; and rival institutions dividing the practice and potential membership numbers.
OHS professional registration in Africa, even via European bodies, does not mean the same as it does in Europe. The current policy of IOSH UK does not include serving South African practitioners, for various reasons.
In addition, employers and human resources practitioners are stuck in a health and safety ‘minimum compliance’ approach, instead of a value addition approach. They are also poorly informed on the relative value, modules, and even NQF levels of OHS training and career planning, starting with a lack of OHS vision, strategy, and sometimes even scopes of services.
These disadvantages to our practice in Africa, make individual health and safety CPD management, and the practical article above, all the more important to practitioners, employers and HR people.
Applicants should prepare to spell out the relative value of their training, experience and CPD, and their career planning, to empoloyers.
HR practitioners should identify and develop OHS mentors on every site, work more closely with OHS training providers, and assess applicants more rigorously. -Edmond Furter
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