How To Ensure Workers Are Competent To Safely Perform Tasks
To demonstrate that you have a safe system of work, you must first be able to prove that all of your workers are competent to perform their tasks safely.
How do you do this?
The most effective way is through Competency-Based Training.
Competency-Based Training is essential to test the worker’s knowledge to ensure they have understood the training they have received.
It is made up of Skill and Knowledge.
A worker can prove they have Knowledge when they can provide answers to questions either in writing or verbally. This can be by way of paper or online assessment where it provides documentary evidence.
Skill is proven where a worker can demonstrate that they can complete a task correctly. This requires the worker to complete in the correct sequence whilst applying the correct safety principles.
What does Competency-Based Training do?
- Allows the worker to demonstrate their ability to safely perform the task they have been trained to do
- Ensures that a trainee does not move onto the next topic until they have demonstrated an adequate grasp of the previous topic
- Demonstrates you have taken all reasonable steps to train your workers in the appropriate areas; and
- Have a reasonable basis for considering that your workers are competent to perform their tasks safely.
How do I prove my workers are competent to perform tasks?
Policies, procedures and induction forms that state, “I have read and understood this document” are not evidence of competence. You must be able to prove that workers are competent to safely perform tasks.
Workers need to demonstrate competency through on-the-job and written assessments. This may involve:
- having workers answer multiple-choice questions about the work process; and
- requiring workers to demonstrate the correct process, and ticking off that they have done this correctly.
Why do I need Competency-Based Training?
In Joss v Boral Bricks Pty Ltd (2012), Mr Joss was an employee of Boral Bricks, and worked at the Bringelly brick factory. He worked in and around a machine called the ‘Dehacker’.
Following a risk assessment of the machine, Boral Bricks introduced a policy for isolating the live machinery called ‘Lock Out, Tag Out’ (LOTO). This would essentially stop the Dehacker and prevent it from being restarted to allow the operator safe access after they had placed their own personal tag on an isolation switch at the entry point of the Dehacker.
Boral Bricks provided safety training regarding the procedure on at least four occasions, and Mr Joss successfully completed a module on the topic. Moreover, LOTO was discussed in several team meetings.
Mr Joss failed to perform the LOTO procedure on a number of occasions. He received a warning and was subsequently dismissed. Mr Joss lodged an unfair dismissal claim.
The Court found in favour of Boral Bricks, due in part to the extensive training Mr Joss had received and his failure to comply with safety procedures.
If workers are not performing tasks correctly after they have been trained and have proven they are competent, you may need to discipline them. Discipline for safety breaches is essential to maintaining a safe workplace.