Tim's Blog

Competence assessment


Both the environmental and safety management standards require staff to have a level of competence sufficient for effective functioning of the management system.


This is usually achieved via education, training and on-the-job experience. But how do you verify the competence of an individual? What evidence can you show an auditor to prove that someone is competent?



A systematic approach to competence assessment is required and the following process is suggested:


Step 1

List the important competences required for the person’s role. These will generally include specific skills (eg. auditing skills), knowledge (eg. of legal obligations) and perhaps judgement (eg. how to respond to an incident).


Step 2

Develop indicators of each competence. These should be quantifiable if possible and appropriate for the competence. Eg. an indicator of “knowledge of legal obligations” might be the person’s performance in answering queries or giving advice in meetings or presenting information in reports.





Step 3


Decide who will gather the data (using the indicators above) and make the assessment of competence, and when this will be done.

So, how does one gather this data?  Here are some suggestions:


  • Appropriate qualifications may satisfy basic requirements, especially “knowledge” requirements
  • External course assessments (providing these courses include competence-assessment)
  • Feedback from in-house training (subjective assessment may be sufficient for one-on-one training)
  • Close supervision of the person’s work (this may allow verification of skills/knowledge/judgement)
  • Assessment of work output (eg. reports, project completion, verbal advice)
  • Feedback from third parties who are competent to assess skills/knowledge/judgement
  • Audits (internal or external) of the person’s work or outcomes from that work.


Keeping records is paramount, both as evidence for an auditor and to facilitate competence reviews.