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What is competence, and why is it important?

competence at work

What is competence, and why is it important?

Competence means that someone can do something well. That something could be performing a task, a job or an activity.

When someone has competence in something, the person can do that thing very well. For instance, if you have the knowledge and skills to prepare a meal, you have the competence to make that meal. If you have the competence in operating equipment, it means you have the knowledge and the skills in that aspect. 

Competence can involve a lot of things. For some people, it could be in leading a team effectively, but some people may not. 

Competence on a task or a job can mean that someone has a way of behaving or thinking that matters for performance in that job. 

I will give you an example now, a seller of female bags should be able to establish trust with the customers before sales. Her ability to get this trust and credibility for her sales shows competence in selling female bags. 

Another example again is that of a wall painting professional, who has mastered the art of painting, and in any work the painter handles, it comes out better. The painter could be said to have competence in the job. 

What does competence mean in health and safety HSE?

According to HSE, health and safety executive, Uk, competence is the combination of training, skills, experience and knowledge that a person has and the ability to apply them to perform a task safely. 

Competence in HSE is the ability of everyone in the organization, for example, the director, manager, Foremen, and others, to recognize risks and hazards in the jobs and apply the right measure to control them. 

Importance of competence in health and safety?

Reasons for competence in health and safety include

1. Competence is needed in the preparation of risk assessments. 

A competent worker should prepare a risk assessment with other workers to get a well-detailed document. An incompetent worker will produce a shallow risk assessment. Such writing will fail to fulfil the objectives of the risk assessment.

2. Competent workers have the knowledge and skills to work safely.

A worker working in a safe manner guarantees no accident or incident in the workplace or any environment. Human errors are one major cause of accidents. Some errors can be a result of incompetence. 

3. Competence is an integral part of work activities in health and safety.

The main factor to consider when engaging in work is competency. Many work activities exist in a workplace or a construction environment. For example, Operating a machine or equipment, masonry work, carpentry work, etc. These activities require competency. A competent worker has the knowledge to carry out work safely.

4. Having competence for your workers is a legal requirement. 

Employers are responsible to all workers with the contractors under them to ensure they are competent in what they do. So, fine awaits them when they don’t abide by this requirement. 

5. ISO 45001: 2018 requirement.

The 7.2 Clause of ISO 45001:2018 says that the organization shall determine the necessary competence of workers that affects or can affect its OH&S performance and ensure that workers are competent to identify hazards based on appropriate education, training or experience.

6. Competent health and safety professional.

Employers must appoint a competent person to manage their health and safety duties in their organization. A safety person will have the necessary skills, experience and knowledge to manage health and safety.                                                                                                                                                                               

Final note

An employer has to focus more on the competence of their workforce as this is the right thing to do. A competent worker knows the required knowledge, skills and training to perform a task safely. More so, fulfilling a requirement of having competition should be a must desire for every employer that wants a safe and healthy workplace. 

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