The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is leading a new initiative which will reduce employers’ confusion about which health and safety qualifications workers need to hold and which training courses they need to undertake.

The National Core Competence Benchmark (NCCB) is a collaborative initiative supported by a wide range of trade associations and is open to any training course provider. One of its innovative elements will be a website which lists courses and qualifications that are accredited by trade, safety or examination bodies and ranks them against recognised training frameworks.

Legally, employers are wholly responsible for judging who is, or is not, competent. This is an onerous duty that is hampered by the lack of any clear standards. The NCCB will come into this gap to offer impartial and highly-practical assistance to employers at the point of them choosing training courses or qualifications for their staff and establishing the competence of contractors.

The NCCB has been created in light of reports of huge confusion among employers when they were making judgements about which training to choose. Not only can employers be overwhelmed by the sheer number of courses on offer, but the quality of courses varies enormously. Identifying which training promotes real competency (going beyond training course theory to promoting practical experience) can be difficult.

The website will include a tool for establishing development needs for employees holding specific positions, and it benchmarks the relative level of courses.

The NCCB initiative also includes “smart card training passports” – contractors can store their training histories online and on electronically-readable cards, meaning they can quickly and easily share their records with third parties.

Errol Taylor, deputy chief executive of RoSPA and a director of the NCCB, said: “Employers tell us that they are very confused when trying to decide what training to provide for their employees – both in terms of identifying reputable providers and the level of course required. The NCCB is a fantastic initiative that will support employers while they are assessing what training they need to provide for their employees and also when they are establishing the competence of potential contractors.”

The NCCB website is being developed to include numerous recognised courses from a diverse range of training providers including safety bodies and trade associations.