People often believe that to be successful in your endeavors in the workforce, you need a formal education. Certifications and training certainly play a role in qualifying a person to be a safety pro. The main component that most employers agree on though, and that which is qualified by the HSE, is being a competent person.
Applicants and employers alike want and need an individual that is capable of thinking on their feet and has experience in the field dealing with health and safety. They must have an understanding for the need to perform tasks without compromising themselves, or the people depending on them. Competence becomes relative to the specific job or task being executed. HSE defines a competent person as having the necessary skills, experience and knowledge to manage health and safety.

Book Smart, Hands on Skills

Universities produce qualified people to manage and make an impact on the team that they are working with. Even with all the testing and reading possible, a person with a degree must get some field work under their belt to properly become proficient and competent in the safety field.
The HSE has outlined key principles for someone to be qualified as a competent person. It is important to understand and be confident in these functions. A competent person understands the association between engineered designs and software, and how to apply them with human factoring to escalated situations and in emergency scenarios.

Linking competence to responsibilities, activities, and tasks involved with risk assessments is an essential factor that employers have to consider. Training, initially and throughout one's career to consolidate knowledge and skills is part of developing competency traits.

A competent individual will work and build in redundancies to account for foreseeable working conditions. This will include preparing for complex tasks, emergency situations, preventative maintenance and repairs.

A person qualified as competent will understand the application, communication and, dispersement of P.P.E., and how it relates to job hazard profile assessments. This person will facilitate training to educate the team while avoiding complacent methods. Appropriate education designed for the varying audiences, classroom, simulation or, online classes. Competent safety pro's will validate training by asking themselves and the team, 'does this training deliver what it is supposed to deliver?' As well as, 'is the training in question is the right type of training for the team's specific needs?'

A competent person will record all training to manage individual profiles and for qualifying team members' progressions. They will offer training and retraining where it is applicable and appropriate. Job hazard analysis will link individuals to preventative measures for specific and unique risks associated with each task.

Competent safety professionals will strive to meet the required balance between competency and supervision. They will understand that their scope of responsibility goes beyond the employed workforce and extends to on site contractors and visitors, and that appropriate training is available equally to those individuals upon arrival and that it will be updated to remain current with established standards.


Competency plays a crucial role in filling safety positions. The brightest, most educated person is useless to the organization as a whole if they don't understand the best methods of applying the objective policies and risk assessments. Qualifications and experience will trump most others when applying knowledge and prevention, understanding limitations and constraints, all of which are gained by the competent person from battle tested applications learned in the field.