Jackie O’Neill CFIOSH, director of JON Auditing and Consultancy Services and vice-chair of the IOSH Northern Ireland branch, talks about her CPD journey.
My first experience of safety and health occurred in 1994 when I delivered NVQ level 3 qualifications in Business Management. I encouraged students to carry out workplace risk assessments as part of their evidence for this module. This was unusual, yet surprisingly well received by their employers.
I subsequently opened a training and consultancy business in 2000, which focused on computer and business training. Over the years, OSH has focused strongly within the business and I have always been passionate about doing things in the right way.
I had an interesting discussion with a local OSH professional who thought I should add safety and health courses to my training portfolio. I knew this meant re-skilling. However it proved to be a great decision.
I joined IOSH as a Grad member in 2004 and implemented a development plan which included achieving chartered status, which I did in 2005. I was thrilled to have achieved fellowship status in August 2016 and pleased to be the first woman in Northern Ireland to do so. Progressing to the highest level of IOSH membership was always my goal and acknowledges my
commitment to CPD.
I often hear members say they struggle with updating their CPD. I tend to write a simple story in the development plan section and then add in activities based on the story. I add in shorter timescales such as three or six months so it’s easy to manage. I found CPD could be gained in ways other than attending courses, for example attending meetings, site visits, reading articles, IOSH publications or anything that demonstrates real value in my work.
Whilst classroom- and exam-based knowledge is important, it’s worth noting that a significant amount of on-the-job training is needed to learn how things work at the coalface. I was fortunate to have access to construction sites in my role of director in my husband’s construction firm. I recorded my site visits and knowledge gained over the years. My NEBOSH students were horrified when I told them they won’t become health and safety officers just on the strength of a qualification, and they need to gain on-site experience for a period of time.
General management and people skills are critical in being able to deliver a practical and pragmatic approach to safety and health. Without these, and if only equipped with technical skills, you would be much less effective. The IOSH CPD model enables you to combine a wide spectrum of these skills.
I think it’s fair to say you would not use the services of a legal or accountancy professional if they failed to update their skills. Why should OSH professionals be any different?
Employers know the value of having competent personnel and CPD will certainly provide opportunities for promotion. Planning is the key for success and skills gaps should be identified and prioritised. What better way to do this than by developing a structured learning plan through using the new IOSH self-assessment tool to look for gaps?
Have a focused approach; don’t underestimate what you can achieve. Talk to other OSH professionals and network. Recognise what type of CPD suits you best – learner-led CPD is successful because it encourages engagement and acknowledges professionalism. However, there is nothing as valuable as on-the-job shadowing with others who can advise and support you.
For more information about completing your CPD, call the IOSH membership team on +44 (0)116 257 3198 or email firstname.lastname@example.org