Competency framework
Professional standards
for safety and health
at work
Technical competencies 06
1 Health and safety law 06
2 Risk management 07
3 Incident management 08
4 Culture 09
5 Sustainability 10
Core competencies 11
6 Strategy 11
7 Planning 12
8 Leadership and management 13
Behavioural competencies 14
9 Stakeholder management 14
10 Personal performance 14
11 Communication 15
12 Working with others 15
© Copyright IOSH 2019
One of the major roles that the Institution of
Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has to play as a
Chartered body is to set the standards for occupational
safety and health. As part of this process, we have
updated our competency framework to help OSH
professionals build capability and keep pace with rapid
change in the workplace.
Working practices change constantly, so all competency
frameworks need to be reviewed and refreshed regularly.
In addition, as businesses strive to become more
sustainable, OSH professionals need to demonstrate a
broad range of competencies, to embed good health,
safety and wellbeing effectively in workplace cultures.
As well as strong technical skills, they need both soft
and business skills that equip them to influence and
drive change.
With 69 competencies, divided into 12 areas across
technical, core and behavioural categories, the newly
updated framework covers all the skills, knowledge and
behaviours needed by occupational safety and health
The framework builds on the foundations of the
competency framework that we developed for Blueprint
1.0 to offer unrivalled guidance for OSH professionals
and employers. It reflects the findings of an extensive
research project to ensure alignment with the needs of
employers, as well as national and international
standards and policies. Uniquely, it also draws on a
wealth of data from Blueprint 1.0, generated by our
self-assessment tool for evaluating capability in
occupational safety and health.
The release of the updated competency framework will
be followed in 2020 by the launch of an enhanced suite
of practical tools, including Blueprint 2.0, a new CPD
scheme, new technical guides and a free Career Hub for
members, with access to thousands of learning
resources and career planning tools.
Health and
safety law
Leadership and
with others
How we developed the competency framework
The new competency framework expands on all areas of
the previous competency framework for Blueprint 1.0.
We used primary and secondary data-gathering
methodologies in our six-month research project.
Primary research included focus groups and in-depth
interviews with employers and a representative sample of
IOSH members. Insight from these groups was combined
with analysis of 250,000 data sets from over 10,000
Blueprint 1.0 users in 111 countries
Secondary research included:
- benchmarking with other professional standards
- reviewing corporate competency frameworks
- analysing job descriptions across a wide range
of sectors
- desktop research referencing a huge spectrum
of material:
- papers, policies and resources from regulators
and institutions around the world
- IOSH’s own extensive library of OSH research,
publications and training programmes.
The research led us to conclude that all areas of IOSH’s
competency framework needed to evolve, to address
the broader scope of OSH and the growing demand for
professionals to complement their technical skills with
soft and business skills.
As a result, we have expanded the framework from 27
to 69 competencies, making it the most comprehensive
competency framework for OSH.
We are enormously grateful to all the individuals and
organisations who contributed to the research and look
forward to seeing how OSH professionals engage with
the new framework.
10,000 members
in 111 countries
used Blueprint to assess their
development needs.
This gave us 250,000 data sets to analyse.
How to use the competency framework
IOSH’s updated competency framework reflects best
practice in occupational safety and health today. It is
designed to be an actionable set of standards to help
employees and employers maximise performance and
minimise risk.
The competency framework provides a set of skills,
knowledge and behaviours that can be used by
managers and staff to lead and take responsibility for
their own learning and development.
Each individual’s development needs will vary,
depending on the role, level, aspirations and sector. The
emphasis on specific core or behavioural competencies
may differ from one company to the next, due to size,
structure or culture.
The framework can be used alongside a wide range of
content and courses, from white papers and books to
continuing professional development (CPD). Blueprint
2.0, coming next year, will enable personal and objective
assessment of a member’s competencies, fully linked to
a development plan, new CPD and a plethora of other
resources to support career development. In the
meantime, IOSH members can access free resources and
search our current CPD courses, mapped by competency,
via our website.
Employers and recruiters
IOSH’s competency framework can improve
performance by guiding professional development and
recruitment processes. Technical and core competencies
focus on what the employee needs to be able to do,
while the behavioural competencies give clear guidance
on how an employee should fulfil their role.
As a whole, the competency framework can inform job
descriptions, selection processes and learning and
development plans. It can also support performance
management and help to embed positive behavioural
values that add value to employees’ technical expertise.
Technical competencies
1 | Health and safety law
Health and safety policy development
The OSH professional should be able to
develop an OSH policy that is consistent
with the business strategy, drivers and
culture and that supports productivity
and success. The policy must describe the
intent of the organisation and its approach
to OSH. Accountabilities, responsibilities
and arrangements for delivering a safe
operation must be described in the policy
or associated documents.
Principles of health and safety
and other legislative frameworks
OSH professional’s must be able to
interpret and comply with laws and
regulations that govern their organisations’
operations. Laws can sometimes be
insufficient to meet the demands of the
risk profile, so in such cases OSH
professionals must consider the spirit and
intent of the law and apply good practice
and OSH principles to reduce risk.
Health and safety governance
Corporate governance essentially
involves balancing the interests of an
organisation’s many stakeholders, such
as shareholders, management, customers,
suppliers, financiers, government and the
community. It includes assurance
mechanisms that routinely check that
the organisation’s risk profile is accurate,
sufficient control is in place and
management is effective. Governance
includes structures and processes that
are designed to ensure accountability,
transparency, responsiveness, rule of
law, stability, equity and inclusiveness,
empowerment and broad-based
OSH management systems
OSH professionals work collaboratively
with stakeholders to build an
organisational structure, plan activities,
assign responsibilities, develop safe
working practices and implement
management procedures. The
application of a plan-do-check-act
framework may be applied.
Performance management
Performance management requires
individuals to deploy appropriate strategies
and tools to gather information against
performance criteria as part of assessing
risks and effectiveness of controls.
Individuals must be able to interpret data
to evaluate OSH performance, monitor the
integrity and effectiveness of controls and
evaluate the factors affecting performance
and identify areas for improvement. This is
to include the identification of both leading
and lagging indicators and both output
and outcome performance measures to
support the articulation of intervention
value. The use of technology and the
application of systems to support this
is critical.
Health and safety auditing
This competency requires the professional
to decide what kind of audit is required,
its effective implementation and its use
as part of a monitoring strategy. It includes
knowing how effectively to design and
implement safety tours, gap audits,
compliance audits, documentation
audits and other inspections
of various types.
Continuous improvement
Continuous improvement requires OSH
professionals to develop and embed
strategies, methods and/or ways of
working to support the continual
evolution of OSH working practices,
business integration, operational
processes, project programmes, efficiency
and/or performance. Continuous
improvement includes the simplification of
control strategies and safety management
systems, perhaps in response to changing
organisational structure, risk profile and
Quality management
OSH professionals must establish and
deliver an effective quality management
process and practice that is deliberately
designed to provide consistent results,
greater efficiency and effectiveness, with
a clear understanding of the inter-related
processes needed to deliver organisational
and operational excellence.
This section of the framework includes the collection of OSH technical
competencies that underpin advisory ability. They include understanding
legislation, policy, risk management, incident management and the effect
of health, safety and welfare on people. This section also includes new
technical competencies such as sustainability, ethical practice, human
capital and community impact.
2 | Risk management
Horizon scanning
OSH professionals should proactively and
continuously scan the external market for
the industry and sector of their
organisation, for unexpected, emerging
and unanticipated risks (e.g. changing
legislation or industry standards) and
assess the potential impact of them on
the wider organisational environment.
Horizon scanning should extend to
monitoring organisational proposals for
changes in operation and structure that
affect reporting and the allocation of
Risk identification and profiling
Risk identification and profiling require
OSH professionals to understand the level
and nature of risk and how it fits into the
overall risk management and governance
structure of the organisation. They
systematically work to identify and define
OSH risks and how they should be scaled
through the organisation, to ensure that
appropriate OSH team resources are made
available. The process must include regular
review to identify any significant changes
and any new risk.
Risk assessment and analysis
Risk assessment and analysis require OSH
professionals to identify appropriate risk
assessment methodologies. They must
be able to demonstrate the effective use
of risk-related data, facts, patterns and
trends and evaluate the uncertainties,
critical failure/hazard points, the scale
of the risk, its probability and impact.
They must be able to use a range of
qualitative and quantitative approaches
to assessing the risk. These must include
the identification and application of
different assessment methodologies,
ways to keep assessments up-to-date
and using assessment findings to drive
behavioural change.
Risk prioritisation
The OSH professional prioritises risk and
opportunities in OSH, based on the wider
impact on the organisation in terms of
probability, scale, significance, impact
and distribution. They are able to explain
a range of factors that can influence the
perceptions of risk. By using risk
prioritisation methods they can inform
action plans, control decisions and
management strategies. They are able to
create a business case to support proposed
interventions. Competence entails the
ability to use risk prioritisation to develop
complex risk control programmes and
mitigation plans.
Risk control, mitigation and resilience
OSH professionals develop mitigation
strategies, including the proportionate
allocation of resources to control risk
adequately. By doing so, they build the
resilience of the organisation to manage
current, emerging and future risks.
The OSH professional uses a range
of resources to justify mitigation
recommendations and overall business
improvements to eradicate or reduce risk.
They ensure risk controls are proportionate
to the individual risk in terms of likelihood
and severity. They can measure the value of
outcomes as well as outputs and thereby
demonstrate that the aims of the business
case for intervention have been achieved.
Risk monitoring and reporting
By establishing an OSH risk reporting
system that aligns with the organisational
structure, the OSH professional provides
clear, detailed and regular reports on the
impact of OSH risks on the business. They
use analytical tools to monitor emerging
risks and changes to existing risks and
update risk reports regularly.
It is necessary to be able to escalate
unexpected, unanticipated or emerging
risks urgently. There must also be an
ability to make clear recommendations
on improvements based on systematic
analysis of data from a blend of
information sources at agreed intervals.
Integrating health and safety
risk into business risk processes
The OSH professional evaluates
interdependencies of OSH risks and those
in the rest of the organisation, including
operational risks, internal and external
uncertainties and opportunities, along with
possible corporate failure points and
associated business and resource
implications. They are able to appreciate
fully the impact of OSH risk realisation on
the business and can articulate that in
commercial terms as well as the usual
moral, ethical and financial arguments.
Occupational health and wellbeing
It is important to be able to understand
and facilitate the integration of
occupational health risk management
into the wider OSH management systems.
OSH professionals can support the delivery
of the organisation’s wellbeing agenda
through collaboration with other specialists.
This includes risk identification and
assessment, recommendation of controls
and management systems, assuring
competency, monitoring and investigation
of incidents.
Business continuity
OSH professionals contribute to and ensure
the coordination of business continuity
and crisis management strategies relating
to OSH and wider plans with risk
management. In doing so, they collect
and analyse information and use it to
inform crisis management situations, using
scenario-based management to contribute
to problem resolution, including exercises
to test what should happen in case of
incidents affecting business continuity.
This includes the impact of fatal incidents
on operations.
3 | Incident management
Incident management
There should be an ability to apply different
procedures to deal
with incidents of
differing severity. Procedures
will include
dealing with casualties, dealing with
worker shock, preserving the scene
for investigation, implementing incident
reporting processes, appointment of legal
advice and management of public relations.
The OSH professional should be able to
identify stakeholders and engage them
appropriately in the investigation.
Incident investigation
This competency entails the ability to
recognise the difference between direct
and indirect causes of incidents and
unsafe conditions. Individuals can identify
ineffective and missing information and
assess possible improvements to OSH risk
control and management systems to
reduce the likelihood of the incident
Incident reporting
This requires OSH professionals to prepare
reports to meet organisational standards
on incidents, applying professional and
legal standards. They must be able to
identify an appropriate categorisation of
incidents, reflecting their organisation’s risk
profile. They should be able to contribute to
or make appropriate recommendations for
proportionate improvement to work
Supporting a legal defence
The OSH professional must be able to
identify the full range of documentary
evidence that would support a legal
defence, including documentation that
may not be directly OSH-related (e.g.
maintenance records). This will include
the taking of statements to provide
supportive evidence. The OSH professional
should be able to work collaboratively with
the legal teams tasked to build a defence
and understand and implement the
country’s rules for legal privilege.
Proficiency with incident cost analysis
As part of incident investigation OSH
professionals must undertake a cost
analysis to understand the impact of the
incident on the business. The cost analysis
could include activities associated with the
circumstances of the incident but also the
impact on the business from a reputational
point of view.
| Culture
Organisational culture
OSH professionals should be able to work
cross-functionally in the organisation as a
critical business partner, fostering a culture
that drives a positive safety culture and
climate, while supporting operational
productivity and success.
Vulnerable workers
Understanding what vulnerable workers
are present in the workforce and what
additional controls may be necessary to
ensure that they are kept safe from harm.
This includes adjustments that can be made
in the workplace to accommodate workers
with disabilities.
Employee welfare
A competent OSH professional ensures
that adequate facilities are in place for
workers, including water, an area for
rest and recuperation, changing facilities,
toilets and ablutions as necessary.
Understanding of worker wellbeing
An OSH professional is expected to deliver
management systems that promote and
protect worker wellbeing. This includes
persuading them to make good lifestyle
choices to keep themselves fit and healthy
and systems for the effective management
of mental health.
Health and safety competence
This requires OSH professionals to act as
the ‘trusted advisor’ on OSH issues and,
in doing so, support the development and
delivery of appropriate OSH competency
throughout their organisation. Individuals
must be able to provide varied and
up-to-date information on OSH. They
should be able to analyse, evaluate,
interpret and determine the concepts and
knowledge employees at all levels of the
organisation need to know to manage the
risk profile of the organisation effectively.
External visitors, suppliers
and contractors
It is essential to be knowledgeable
about the tenets of effective contractor
management, including authorisation
and management procedures and ensuring
the competence of contractors to carry
out the work safely. They must be able
to build open and honest relationships
with contractors, ensuring that quality
information is exchanged and joint
decision-making is encouraged wherever
appropriate. Contracts need to be fair from
an OSH perspective and responsibilities and
liabilities very clearly stated. Management
systems must ensure the safety of visitors
and consideration of supplier safety and
their provision of safe products.
Responsiveness to changes
in the modern workplace
Workplaces are in constant incremental
change as organisations try to meet the
challenges of a changing world.
Technological, operational and even
societal change will affect the way people
work and the tasks that they do. The OSH
professional must demonstrate that they
are able to reflect on these changes and
respond by recommending modifications
to OSH management systems and risk
control strategies to meet these challenges.
5 | Sustainability
OSH professionals must be able to
influence, support and implement
strategies and plans that will be beneficial
to the organisation, employees and the
environment. They have a role to play in
harnessing business to improve society.
Human capital
It’s important to be engaged in
recommending, supporting and
encouraging policy and the implementation
of a range of social and welfare activities
for internal and external stakeholders.
Internally, focus will be on such things
as ensuring diversity and inclusion in
a wide range of OSH business activities,
development of wellness programmes,
support and training to develop employees,
and providing progression opportunities,
to name but a few. Externally, the focus
will be to ensure that OSH professionals
engage actively in promoting projects with
a clear social purpose, making a positive
contribution to society, with a specific
focus on customers and communities.
This demands response to changing
demographics in the workplace, embracing
diversity and inclusion, disability and even
return-to-work and rehabilitation processes.
Community impact
OSH professionals have a major role
in the organisation in developing and
delivering social sustainability programmes
that directly affect local communities. In
approaching this, they must identify social
causes directly linked to the sector and
community. They should be clear about
objectives, able to leverage the
organisation’s brand, products and
services, and engage stakeholders
effectively to support best endeavours.
Financial sustainability
OSH professionals must play a leading
role in the financial sustainability of the
organisation, through the development
and implementation of health and safety
management systems and processes.
They must play their part in ensuring that
resources obtained are from socially and
environmentally responsible sources and
must be affordable. Additionally, they will
help explore financial risks associated with
OSH and commercially-related decisions.
This includes recommendations and giving
ideas for maintaining a strong financial
position, effectively managing overhead
costs and being financially innovative in
the resourcing of key OSH projects.
Ethical business practices
Ethical business practices require OSH
professionals to identify clearly any ethical
issues, responsibilities and challenges that
could compromise good occupational
safety and health practice within the
organisation. In addition, ethical decision-
making, including consideration of benefits
versus harm to health, will be a critical
component of ethical practices, along with
consideration of justice, virtue and human
rights. OSH professionals have an essential
part to play in the organisational
positioning of ethical management, which
is a component of sustainability. This will
help to contribute to building employee
and public confidence in the organisation.
IOSH’s competency framework
will have a game-changing
impact on the profession.
The need for us to have wider
skills and behaviours beyond
technical ability, and to
understand what that means
for business, is vital.
Karl Simons,
Chief Health, Safety and Security Officer,
Thames Water
6 | Strategy
Strategy development
Strategy development requires OSH
professionals to both lead and contribute
to the organisation’s strategic direction,
considering the bigger picture while setting
priorities and the way forward.
Individuals should identify and consider
emerging issues and development
opportunities, along with associated risks,
while articulating a series of new innovative
and sustainable business options and
recommendations. Maintaining a broad
strategic perspective while identifying and
focusing on crucial drivers will be critical
to OSH and to the wider business.
Business context (internal
and external)
This competency requires the ability to be
cognisant of the organisation’s approach
to business, and the wider context in which
it operates, both internally and externally.
This will mean that there should be broad
consideration of markets, customers and
suppliers and, importantly, wider sector
considerations. The application of OSH in
the context of that wider environment will
demonstrate a 360-degree review and
consideration that makes a substantial
difference in the way in which the OSH
strategy is developed, in line with the
wider business strategy and its approach
to overall delivery.
Diversity and inclusion
It’s essential to develop and contribute to
inclusive workplace relationships, while
collaborating in diverse teams to foster
positive and productive outcomes
Individuals are expected to advocate for
diverse perspectives and model inclusive
behaviour, support learning and influence
others to promote and embrace progress in
diversity and inclusion, while responding to
inappropriate and non-inclusive behaviour.
Avoiding stereotypes, bias and prejudice
will be essential.
Stakeholder management
This requires individuals to build an
awareness of interactions and linkages
across stakeholder groups in order to
influence and have an impact on OSH
practice throughout the business, internally
and externally. OSH professionals should
play a leading role in stakeholder
engagement, including collaborative
working to build business benefit at
whatever level they operate. Developing
networks inside and outside of the
business will be a critical part of building
and maintaining positive relationships to
add maximum overall strategic benefit
to the business.
Influencing both internal and external
stakeholders and building relationships
with them present long-term opportunities.
OSH professionals will be expected to
create a vision, set out and communicate
clear goals and plans for the future and
be catalysts for change in a convincing way.
They will be expected to use their influence
in a broad range of situations. They will
also have the ability to see alternative
perspectives they would not have seen on
their own, to achieve the desired outcomes.
They should have the ability to represent
mission, vision and arguments for action
suitably for a variety of audiences from the
shop floor to the Boardroom.
Knowledge management
Knowledge management is central to
any organisation’s success. Knowledge
management is the continuous collection
of information and facts relating to OSH
and its impact on business effectiveness.
It includes activities such as horizon
scanning, gathering internal and external
information on regulation, standards, good
practice and databases that provides
evidence. Information will come from a
number of sources e.g. risk assessments,
inspection and audit reports, observations
and conversations, reports and complaints,
incident reports and investigations, and
information originating from outside of
the organisation too. Evaluating and
disseminating information is vitally
important in supporting and developing
business cases for OSH performance
improvement strategies.
Learning organisation
OSH professionals should continuously
engage in seeking out the latest thought
leadership and practice. They should be
able to use this information to educate
and engage their co-workers and use
the enhanced knowledge to improve
and transform the business and its OSH
culture continuously. They should take
a proactive and planned approach and
shape a learning agenda that will drive
value and performance positively and
build future organisational resilience.
Core competencies
This is the set of skills necessary to support and enable good decision-
making in the workplace. They include competencies covering strategy,
planning, leadership and management. The development of these skills
will greatly enhance the employability and general effectiveness of the
OSH professional.
7 | Planning
Planning and implementation
This requires OSH professionals to ensure
realistic objectives are set, and that the
right deadlines, budgets and resources are
put in place for effective delivery. Using
planning tools and milestones appropriate
for the size and scale of the project will be
important. The ability to advise on delivery
and design of implementation solutions,
as well as establish the right performance
measures to ensure the plan delivers on
requirements, is a critical success factor to
the OSH function and overall business.
Financial management
It is a critical skill for OSH professionals
to manage the financial resources of the
OSH function and more widely across
the business effectively and efficiently,
leveraging value while reducing wasteful
spending. Being able to undertake
relevant financial management reporting,
or contributing to such reporting, is
essential, while seeking to monitor the
financial performance of the function
continuously is a must. Being familiar with
and practiced in budgetary process, profit,
loss and ROI are critical competencies.
Data analysis
OSH professionals are required
to define data needs and manage
the collection and organisation of
data effectively. It will be important
to find clear correlations between
that analysed data and the rest of the
company’s and industry’s data. It also
entails the ability to spot problems
and initiate preventative measures or
problem-solve creatively. Communicating
outcomes from the data analysis in a
timely, effective and understandable
way will be a key requirement.
Decision-making is a important aspect
of daily OSH operations. OSH professionals
need to demonstrate the ability to
make decisions on strategic and tactical
issues, but as they progress within the
organisation those decisions become
more complex, risky and prone to higher
levels of scrutiny. They will be expected
to evidence their decision-making and
recommendations, demonstrating that
appropriate judgement has been applied
and with the best interest of the business
in mind.
It is critical that safety
professionals have their
voice heard in the boardroom,
now more than ever. To do that
that, we need people to join our
profession who can share the
message that ‘good safety is good
business’ and clearly articulate
how we contribute to corporate
governance and profitability.
Neil Lennox,
Head of Group Safety and Insurance,
8 | Leadership and
Functional management
This skill requires OSH professionals to
utilise a range of leadership styles and
approaches to lead on the development,
function and implementation of
operational plans to deliver on the health,
safety and welfare requirements across
the business. This includes determining
the right structure to drive high-impact
initiatives, productivity and effectiveness.
As part of the process, individuals will
allocate resources, set and manage budgets
and put in place the right resources, or
make appropriate recommendations if they
do not control the resources necessary.
Individuals will also organise and/or
contribute to resource allocation,
establishing efficient workflows to deliver
business imperatives. They should inspire
and motivate the OSH team and other
stakeholders to meet objectives, thereby
encouraging the sharing of knowledge
and professional development.
Visible leadership
This promotes an unambiguous OSH vision,
clearly articulates how it can be achieved
and what needs to be done to realise it.
It will require OSH professionals to
demonstrate confidence, optimism,
perseverance and personal resilience as
they seek to use their influence across
a wide range of stakeholders and ensure
their peers and direct reports see and share
in the value of everything they do. As they
seek to gain acceptance to adopt policy,
plans and processes, they need to establish
a clear case for change, challenge positively
where required and be able to gain the
respect of others, gaining and maintaining
their respect as they go. They must inspire
and motivate others to engage with the
vision and the change needed to achieve it.
This is an important factor in developing
effective and high levels of performance
in OSH by multidisciplinary teams. Creating
a positive, sharing and enabling working
environment in which staff can thrive helps
to shape the behaviours of the team.
Individuals will promote team morale
and productivity by being clear about
expectations and by accrediting
contributions and acknowledging
accomplishments, demonstrating how they
value the input by each team member.
Project management
Being able to create plans for managing
a range of OSH and/or integrated business
projects and programmes, from simple
to complex. This includes an ability to
identify objectives, tasks, resources, risks
and associated mitigation challenges,
along with budgets and timelines and
project or programme governance. The
audience is often broad and complicated,
so skills in collaboration, communication
and cooperation are key as OSH project
managers often navigate the organisation’s
Managing change
This means being able to scope, plan
and communicate the rationale for change
and assessing the impact of that change on
the OSH function and across the business.
Having the ability to find ways to gain
cooperation and buy-in to change is
central to the successful implementation
of any initiative and the way in which
the business operates.
Conflict management
This means being able to overcome
differences in opinions relating to business
issues and view them as a healthy part
of management decisions, at both
functional and organisational levels. It
requires individuals to work with tact, to
respect the views of others, to apply a wide
range of interpersonal skills to facilitate
discussions effectively and to deploy a
range of strategies and compromises that
may achieve greater benefit for all
concerned, irrespective of original positions.
It’s the responsibility of OSH professionals
to work to gain clear agreement on the
way forward and ensure they gain full
support for the agreed outcome.
9 | Stakeholder
This is a way of working that requires
individuals to find out stakeholders’ needs,
expectations and motivations while
building a rapport with strategic partners.
It involves building strong networks with
stakeholders and promoting resource and
information sharing, while treating them
with respect. Being able to negotiate
effectively, find common ground or offer
viable and constructive alternatives will
allow OSH professionals to be collaborative
business partners and colleagues.
Being the ‘trusted advisor’
This skill requires OSH professionals
to use their experience, training,
knowledge and subject matter expertise
to advise internal and external customers
on the best way to undertake a series of
activities and deliver on business intent.
To be trusted advisors, professionals must
display a range of behaviours that illustrate
they are disciplined, professional and
trustworthy and act consistently
with integrity.
Negotiating constructively towards a
win-win solution is an expectation of OSH
professionals. Exploring creative solutions
with others to gain successful outcomes
is critical. Individuals should prepare and
run effective negotiations in a constructive
manner and make realistic compromises,
while maintaining an objective and
non-emotional distance from the
arguments. Focus should achieve value-
added results and outcomes.
10 | Personal
Personal responsibilities
and accountabilities
This requires OSH professionals to
understand, apply and work within
legislative requirements, approved
standards and company policy. In so doing
they must ensure that they meet moral and
social requirements of the OSH ethos,
ensuring every employee has a right to
work in a healthy and safe environment
without risk of injury. Critical to this is the
ability to ensure that they are able to
balance those ethical, moral, social and
cost challenges of the role.
Self-motivation and discipline
OSH professionals are obliged to
undertake their own self-development,
often being the only specialist in an
organisation. This work must include
self-awareness of strengths, weaknesses
and opportunities for development;
accountability for own behaviour,
deliverables, health and wellbeing; an
awareness and understanding of current
and evolving best practice; a willingness
to develop skills or knowledge required;
and a commitment to continuing
professional development (CPD).
Prioritising work
Prioritising work is part of an OSH
professional’s daily responsibilities.
Working on their own initiative, in a
self-directed and autonomous manner, is
essential. They should also be able to work
without guidance, prioritising issues, tasks
and activities effectively and efficiently to
deliver personal and business objectives.
Driven by results
OSH professionals will be able to generate
commitment and enthusiasm from others
to set and achieve challenging goals
and objectives. They should be able
to navigate problems in a nimble
and agile way, even
when they are complex. Constant
monitoring of results and ensuring quality
and delivery are achieved as planned
provide opportunity for continuous
improvement in service delivery across the
business. Doing this demands commercial
acumen and a desire to strive with
colleagues in other disciplines to improve
This includes the requirement to investigate,
assess and evaluate issues and events that
have an impact on the business. Problems
will range from the simple to more complex
and will require the deployment of a
multitude of tools and techniques to
support analysis and synthesis of
information. OSH professionals are used to
contributing to solving business problems
in an effective, risk-conscious but efficient
way. Generating potential solutions by
applying consultative, creative and
innovative practices against pre-set criteria
in a positive way will help to facilitate
successful outcomes.
Innovation and creativity
These include developing and embedding
approaches to innovative and creative
working, quick to spot and capitalise on
emerging trends, providing insightful
solutions to improve business effectiveness
and productivity. The OSH professional
identifies and uses a range of mechanisms,
tools, processes and behaviours that are
thorough in seeking viable ideas for
Behavioural competencies
These competencies cover how the OSH professional conducts themselves
in the workplace. They include working with stakeholders, ensuring good
personal performance and professionalism, communication and working
effectively with others. These competencies underpin the building of
successful working relationships.
11 | Communication
Communicating effectively
An essential attribute is the ability to create
simplicity out of complexity. The
ability to develop effective two-way
communications delivers efficiency in the
process and ultimately better outcomes
and results. Being mindful when shaping
and delivering messages, whatever the
communications medium, helps to build
the confidence and credibility in OSH.
Advocating for safety and inspiring
This requires OSH professionals to take
on the role of trusted advisor within the
organisation and to promote, improve,
maintain and enhance safety in daily
working operations and inspire individuals
and functions across the business to take
responsibility for keeping themselves and
others safe at all times.
Providing constructive feedback
A skilled requirement vital for achieving
a safe and healthy working environment.
Deploying skills that balance strengths and
areas for development in a way that drives
a positive outcome is essential. The ability
to avoid negative phrases and react
purposefully to challenges is essential.
Active listening
OSH professionals should show at all times
they are listening to people in a range
of settings and situations, by giving
their undivided attention and by using
appropriate body language. Importantly,
they should provide constructive feedback,
aim to defer judgement and find ways of
responding appropriately.
12 | Working with others
This requires OSH professionals to develop
an honest understanding of their own
values, desires, thought patterns,
motivations, goals and ambitions,
emotional responses, strengths and
weaknesses. They must be able to evaluate
their effect on internal and external
stakeholders. Being mindful of potential
responses to a range of situations is critical
to controlling their personal approach and
thereby gaining buy-in and cooperation.
Commercial mind-set
A skill-critical competency, whereby people
apply formalised and common sense
commercial approaches to business
decision-making, demonstrating clear
business acumen, an ability to interpret
commercial information carefully and to
apply strong business judgement in
Views and perspectives of internal and
external stakeholders go a long way in
progressing OSH-related issues within
business. The ability to listen, respond
appropriately and see things from
other perspectives is key to successful
engagement and respect with a wide
range of stakeholders. As an advocate,
the OSH professional will inspire,
recommend and champion active safe
working practices to ensure the health,
safety and welfare of all those working
for and associated with the organisation.
Professional integrity
This is something every OSH professional
should pride themselves on. Total honesty,
transparency, clarity and ethical behaviour
are essential. Being able to demonstrate
that integrity in all aspects of business is
a commitment each should make and is
a critical success factor for individuals and
the business.
Coaching and mentoring
OSH professionals must take direct
responsibility for ensuring coaching and
mentoring opportunities are provided to
support the learning of others and actively
stretch those individuals’ abilities, outside
their comfort zone. Finding ways of
growing the capability and personal
strengths of individuals will enhance their
value to the organisation. Providing a blend
of proactive and responsive support, along
with advice and constructive feedback,
helps individuals to grow in confidence.
Creating opportunities for change is also
a key part of the process. Coaches and
mentors must model successful behaviours,
including a high-performance work ethic
and constant self-improvement.
IOSH is the Chartered body for health and safety
professionals. With over 47,000 members in more
than 130 countries, we’re the world’s largest
professional health and safety organisation.
We set standards and support, develop and
connect our members with resources, guidance,
events and training. We’re the voice of the
profession and campaign on issues that affect
millions of working people.
IOSH was founded in 1945 and is a registered
charity with international NGO status.
The Grange
Highfield Drive
LE18 1NN
+44 (0)116 257 3100
Institution of Occupational Safety and Health
Founded 1945
Incorporated by Royal Charter 2003
Registered charity in England and Wales No. 1096790
Registered charity in Scotland No. SC043254