SEPTEMBER | NOEA COLUMN
Chris Woodford, director A.C.T. National Ltd,
Specialists in Health & Safety takes over
Susan’s spot this month...
omeone asked me the other day ‘what really upsets
you about the job you do?’ My answer was an issue
that has been eating on me for some time, and
following our conversation, continued to eat on me even
more. Luckily the age of social media gives me the perfect
opportunity to vent my thoughts, and to relieve my inner
torment, I posted a pointed yet pithy comment about the
subject on LinkedIn.
It caused quite a reaction; 100+ immediate responses
and a whole load of comments later, it dawned on me that
I am not alone in my opinions on this matter. The matter
in hand? Competence and Qualification.
I have to briefly mention that this is a subject
that doesn’t exactly ‘really upset’ me, but it does
‘disappointment’ me, and clearly it eats away at me on a
professional basis. Why?
The reality is that across the UK, we have some of the
best, globally recognised health and safety people on
the planet. The UK is seen as best in class, and through
the NOEA, I’ve been fortunate to have met and worked
with some intelligent, diligent and professional people.
However, despite their many qualities, many of them are
not qualified, and this inevitably questions competency.
This may be a small point, and I don’t mean to
be a pedant, but it’s also a really important one. By
qualification, I mean professional accreditation, by a
recognised body, and while one can be as exceptional at
what they do as can be, qualification in this part of the
events process, in my mind, is a must.
It’s also important to underline the difference between
quality and qualification. There is no lack of quality in
these professionals, experience is incredibly important
in this industry and many have over 30 years’. However,
the difference between quality and qualification takes
stark focus when an event is standing in front of a judge.
At ACT we host annual live mock court days, which
bring this sort of scenario to life. We pay professional
barristers and judges to argue a case in an authentic
setting so organisers and health and safety professionals
can see what it all looks like. In front of a judge,
experience counts for a bit, but the qualification is
the most pressing. Without them, the arguments lose
credibility and the judge loses patients and has to
OK, so these occurrences are thankfully rare, and the
idea of good people with good experience means we are
actively trying to avoid just the sort of scenario that
will end up in court. However, accidents do happen, and
tragedies occur, when it comes to often matters of life or
death, the law is looking for training and accreditation;
and it’s hard not to agree with it.
It’s become abundantly clear to me, the more I brood
on this subject, that there are too many people not
qualified to do their jobs, and not enough pressure from
customers or the industry to encourage them to pick
up these accreditations. If we don’t, this is a habit that
will grow and become a massive sleeping giant in the
industry, ready to wake and hurt it.
As ever, we won’t really know the depth of this issue
until its bought to life in tragedy, at which point it may
just be too late.
“This is a subject that
doesn’t exactly ‘really
upset’ me, but it does