The Asbestos Liaison Group – how to design a competence scheme
The Asbestos Liaison Group (ALG) have just released some draft guidance on how to design a competence scheme, and whilst it contains some sensible pointers, there are also several areas of inconsistency and blind allies. It also weighs in at a massive 24 pages, making accessibility difficult in our busy lives.
The document is still out for consultation for a little while longer, so in an attempt to improve it – here are some of the highlights:
It specifically casts doubt on the ability of the employer to conduct adequate competence assessments on temporary (agency) staff.
Rather than guiding us to all of the qualifications available, it only promotes two that are championed by the trade organisations.
In what appears to be a contradiction, it indicates both that there should not be degrees of competence and later that different levels of performance can exist (experienced vs newly qualified operatives).
The guidance states that competence is only achieved when ALL standards are met, partial competence – say excellent removal techniques but poor airlock construction would equate to ‘not yet competent’.
Despite it being a crucial part of the whole exercise, the guidance is very brief on actually how to produce and interpret Training Needs Analysis (TNAs).
Encouragingly it does recognise that the best assessments and assessors are first line managers or supervisors, conducting direct observation. Therefore internal continual monitoring systems are king and snapshot exams (e.g. ARICS) have a limited roll. The problem is how to do it. If you follow the guidance to the letter it leads inevitably to a new 100-200 page competence document that you would have to write.
There is hope however, competence schemes are available commercially and can be found either via ACAD, IATP or internet search engines (look for “asbestos Competence Scheme”). Good practical guidance on TNAs can be obtained at IATP, but the same commercially available competence systems by their nature produce TNA reports.
In an attempt to cut through the inconsistencies (and the 24 pages!), and make the process of consultation more effective – I’ve summarised the document to make it more accessible. You can find it and download for free on my website.
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