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In an imagined world where everyone has undergone training and assessment and been judged competent to carry out activities which create health and safety risks, people’s attitudes and behaviours are what make the difference.

These are as much to do with organisational culture as with recruitment, training and professional development because competent staff can still perform badly if they lack motivation to perform well.

In the actual world where not everyone is competent because they are at different stages of development and have had different opportunities to develop, people’s attitudes and behaviours are even more important. The risks arising from work which is not performed well because people lack the requisite knowledge, skills and experience are one thing. The risks arising because organisations have lost or never gained the confidence and commitment of their employees and contractors are quite another.

For many staff, the first real taste they get of your organisational culture is a compulsory course or briefing on health and safety.  These give your organisation a chance to demonstrate that the videos, fine words and graphics on the corporate website and in the induction pack are genuine. So if the content is tired or out of date, if the delivery is disinterested or uninterested, if assessments are valueless, the people on the receiving end may form negative conclusions and carry these back to the workplace.

CAS has been helping clients optimise the relationships between competence, training, behaviours and organisational culture since 1997. A consistent theme of our work since then has been safety critical work where recruitment and selection, training and licensing are key issues. In our early years, we defined competence requirements, designed competence management systems, built and managed employee licensing and verification processes.

This led on to:

  • Delivery of independent monitoring and evaluation services to national programmes in UK and Ireland for awarding vehicle driving licences and permits for people carrying out restricted activities.
  • Development of policies and procedures, guidance and training for clients who set standards for whole industries and supply chains (Clients include: Rail Safety Standards Board, Network Rail, Transport for London, Smart Freight Centre, Highways Agency).
  • Assessing the effects that organisational culture has on health and safety performance (Clients include: Southeastern Trains, Atkins, New York MTA, London Underground, Atkins, Otis, Euroports, Kier).
  • Providing expert witness services for firms of solicitors defending clients against health and safety prosecutions arising from accidents where competence, behaviours and culture were root causes.
  • Reviewing and restructuring health and safety management systems to put more emphasis on competence, culture and leadership and then managing their implementation (Clients include: The Royal British Legion, Serco).

This track record and everything we learned from it comes together in our current focus on enabling clients to ensure that their risk management policies and objectives are best served by the business and safety critical training, licencing and accreditation programmes they operate or are accountable for.