Safety & Assurance Bulletin July 2022


“Competence can be described as the combination of training, skills, experience and knowledge that a person has and their ability to apply them to perform a task safely. Other factors, such as attitude and physical ability can also affect someone’s competence.”

The range of our experience is a critical part of our competence. 

This is quoted directly from the HSE website and is really useful for us when deciding if someone is or isn’t competent.

Most of us will be familiar with the concept of taking some training, undertaking a test, and hopefully receiving a certificate or card at the end to say you have passed. Think back to your driving lessons, you probably had lessons from an instructor, or another driver, before sitting your test with an examiner. Looking back, do you feel you are a better driver now, or the day you passed your test? If you are like me you’ll consider yourself a better driver now than back then.

It’s likely though that you haven’t had any further training since then, so what’s the difference? Experience, and, perhaps, attitude. As we drive more we become more experienced and continue to learn from that experience. However, if you live and work in rural areas and have never driven in London before, how competent would you feel heading into London?

The range of our experience is a critical part of our competence. Two operators with the same ‘tickets’ but working in vastly different environments would not be competent if those environments were swapped. So how can we evidence this?

Keeping a continuous professional development log is a great way to evidence the types of work and environments you have experienced and have become competent to operate within. Increasingly, we are required to be able to evidence our competence beyond the test, so we must all keep a record of the work that we do. We should be proud to demonstrate how competent we are but acknowledge when we are in a new environment and be humble enough to accept some additional training or supervision while we build that experience, safely.

Safety & Assurance Bulletin July 2022

Competence isn’t just an operator’s issue. Those supervising and managing works also need to be competent.
Their competence is different to that of the operator, it is a different set of skills. How many great operators do you know that haven’t made great supervisors? FISA will soon be launching a new document on FWM Competence. This compliments the ‘Managing Health and Safety in Forestry’ guidance and will give guidance as to how organisations can ensure they can fulfil the role of FWM competently.