Coaching skills for safety people

Michael Emery, CMIOSH, of Securus Health and Safety Limited discusses the need for coaching capabilities in safety professionals to support their core technical competencies.

Most safety people recognise the importance of coaching in the role of the practitioner, and many safety professionals go so far as to refer to themselves as coaches, and yet few are able to outline the process they would follow for any given coaching situation. Why is this?

The safety profession in the UK is obsessed with technical training – mostly with the attainment of IOSH and NEBOSH qualifications – to the exclusion of soft-skills training such as coaching and influencing skills. Like many other safety professionals I believe this is to the detriment of the profession. It helps explain why it is that safety people are often regarded as second-tier members of the management team – compliance-police, technically proficient but unable to provide the sort of support that gets the best out of managers and others in the workplace.

And it’s a situation that is unlikely to change so long as so few training providers are willing to break ranks and offer alternatives. Of the 24 professional development courses advertised on the IOSH website for example, only 1 can be construed as non-technical, soft-skills training.

My own is experience, having been introduced to high-performance coaching techniques on a generic training course and looking around eagerly, was that nothing specific to safety, existed for me to attend. I was faced with little alternative but to continue my training on another generic course and to write my own Coaching for safety course which has now achieved IOSH approval.

It’s a small step and unlikely to make much of a difference in the scheme of things, but it will provide an option for those who, like me, believe that finding solutions to health and safety problems and effectively managing risks requires coaching skills every bit as much as the technical skills required to be a safety practitioner. If you’d like to find out more about the course, please visit Securus Health & Safety Limited