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Competency framework

The skills, knowledge and behaviours you need to influence and drive change

In line with our WORK 2022 strategic aims to enhance, collaborate and influence, we recognise that IOSH needs to do more to build capability across the profession. So, in 2019 we released our updated competency framework following extensive research and consultation with OSH professionals, employers and other stakeholders.  

The updated framework reflects the significant changes that have occurred in the workplace over the last decade. Today’s OSH professionals need a broader range of skills, knowledge and behaviours to influence and drive change. This is more important than ever now, as economies recover from the global pandemic.

Download the full framework

The competency framework includes 69 competencies across three categories: technical, core and behavioural. It is not a ‘one size fits all’ tool; the range and level of competencies required for each individual role will vary and depend on factors such as the sector, the individual’s seniority or career stage and the size of organisation.  

This competency framework is the first step towards an enhanced professional journey, which will provide members with a comprehensive suite of practical tools to guide skills and career development. At the heart of this will be Blueprint 2.0, our self-assessment tool, which will be fully integrated with development resources and your Continuing Professional Development (CPD) record.

Work on Blueprint 2.0 was paused while we focused our attention on supporting members through the pandemic, but we’re working hard to finesse and test the software and will release further details later this year. In the meantime, please read the competency framework and explore our existing resources and CPD courses, which can help you develop your competencies and build your capability.

Watch our videos discussing competencies and the framework.


Got any questions? Have a read through the FAQs below.

What is the new competency framework?

It’s an updated version of the competency framework, previously developed for Blueprint 1.0, rather than an entirely new one. It is designed to help OSH professionals build capability and keep pace with rapid change in the workplace. It sets the standard for the skills, knowledge and behaviours required by OSH professionals managing risk and driving change in today’s constantly evolving workplace.

The updated competency framework is the result of a collaborative research project involving a wide range of stakeholders and drawing on a wealth of data from Blueprint 1.0. There are 69 competencies across 12 areas, in three categories. Technical competence covers health and safety law, risk and incident management and new technical understanding on subjects such as ethical practice, ethical understanding, human capital and community impact. Core competence covers good decision-making in the workplace. Behavioural competence includes communication, working with stakeholders and personal performance.

How do I use the framework to identify my development needs?

The updated framework is the starting point for OSH professionals wishing to build capability by developing their skills, knowledge and behaviours to the highest standards. It is the first step towards our enhanced ‘professional journey’, which will include Blueprint 2.0, a new CPD scheme and new guides. These will complement existing resources such as the Career Hub and IOSH mentoring. In the meantime, you can make use of other existing IOSH resources or sign up for courses which have been mapped to the new competencies.

How will I know which competencies I need at what level for my grade?

The competencies will be mapped to the membership grades and built into Blueprint 2.0. We will finalise this when we know the outcome of the membership grades review. In the meantime, when we share the final proposed membership structure in September, we will explain the methodology that will be used to map the competencies and how competency will be assessed.   

Why did the framework need to be updated?

Occupational safety and health as a practice has changed significantly in the last decade and today's OSH professionals need a wider range of skills. Our competency framework is designed to reflect this and ensure we continue to drive the highest standards of capability within the profession.

Can I still use Blueprint to create a development plan?

Yes. It is still available to use, but please keep in mind that the range of competencies it tests is not mapped to the new competency framework

Will there be an updated version of Blueprint with the new competencies in it?

Yes. We plan to launch Blueprint 2.0 in Spring 2021. We had hoped it would be ready now but work was paused while we focused our attention on supporting members through the pandemic. As the software will assess competencies mapped to IOSH grades which are currently under review pending a vote at the Annual General Meeting in October, we have decided to schedule the final development work once we know the outcome of the review. The new generation of Blueprint, integrated with CPD, will be a significant enhancement to our members’ professional journey and we want to launch it with confidence that it reflects the views of our members. We hope this will mean that it is mapped to the proposed membership grades but we await the outcome of the review.

How did the research project for the competency framework trigger the review of IOSH’s membership grades?

The research conducted to inform the competency framework gave clarity to the competencies required. It indicated a clear need for IOSH as the Chartered Institution to ensure that the standards it sets for entry to membership continue to be relevant to business and wider society.

How does the new competency framework differ from the original IOSH competency framework for Blueprint?

IOSH’s original competency framework detailed 27 competencies, with the emphasis on technical skills. The new framework recognises the continuing need for technical competencies but expands the range of skills, knowledge and behaviours, as mentioned above. It’s arguably the most comprehensive competency framework available for the occupational safety and health sector.

How does IOSH’s competency framework differ from other competency frameworks for the sector?

Other competency frameworks are available and there are similarities, particularly around the use of business and soft skills, but each competency framework is structured differently and designed to meet a different purpose. What all the frameworks have in common is a desire to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world, while maintaining the highest standards for the profession. As the Chartered Institution and leading professional body for occupational safety and health, IOSH’s standards are respected worldwide. Our updated competency framework reflects these standards and is arguably the most comprehensive competency framework specifically for OSH. Importantly, it is an actionable framework which can be used by managers and staff to lead and take responsibility for learning and development. It will help to build capability for the future.

Will IOSH’s CPD scheme change to reflect the new competency framework?

Yes. IOSH is currently working on a new, easier-to-use CPD scheme which will be aligned with Blueprint 2.0 and the competency framework. It will help guide members on what competencies to focus on during their CPD activities. More information on this will follow soon.

I have completed courses in soft skills but none of these courses have been accredited – does that mean they won’t count under a new system?

They count under the current CPD scheme if you have identified a development need in this area and have carried out your reflective action on what you have learned and applied. CPD can come in lots of shapes and sizes so doesn’t necessarily need to be accredited. What is important is how relevant it is to help you with the skills you need in your working life and that you reflect on the impact that any learning has had on your ability to develop and improve in your role. Any new scheme will uphold these principles.

Who was consulted on the updated competency framework?

We used primary and secondary data-gathering methodologies in our extensive six-month research project. Primary research included focus groups and in-depth interviews with employers and a representative sample of IOSH members, combined with analysis of a huge bank of data within Blueprint 1.0, our self-assessment tool. This gave us 250,000 data sets to analyse, from over 10,000 users in 111 countries.

How will members be expected to prove proficiency in each competency? What evidence will IOSH need?

Competency frameworks, by their very nature, are usually quite large as they have to cover the skills, knowledge and behaviours that any type and level of practitioner in our profession may require. So don’t worry – you are not expected to be proficient in every competency! However, competency frameworks can act as a guide for CPD. If you are looking to develop yourself in a particular area, you can refer to them to see what you need to do in each area. The evidence of competence IOSH currently needs, to enter as a Chartered member, can be found here.

Will there be a financial cost for reviewing these competencies, both at the start and as we progress to fulfil the requirements of the grade we are currently at?

Access to the updated competency framework will be via Blueprint 2.0 at no charge. Members can choose how they fulfil their CPD requirements so any costs associated with achieving competency would vary from member to member (as is the case now). IOSH has been working hard to produce a lot of new content and we will be offering a wide range of new, free CPD support materials for members next year as part of our enhanced suite of tools and resources. We will be announcing further details soon.

What is IOSH doing to ensure that recruitment agencies and employers understand the competency framework?

We have shared the framework with specialist OSH recruiters, to make sure they understand what the competencies mean and how they can align their own frameworks with IOSH.

Does IOSH’s competency framework map to INSHPO’s?

As you would expect, there is common ground between the two frameworks. IOSH is an Associate Member of INSHPO and we share a common aim to raise standards within our profession. When INSHPO launched its Capability Framework in 2017, it was a significant step forward. Although IOSH didn’t sign up to the Framework as part of the Singapore Accord, because our first competency framework was already in use within Blueprint, we were delighted to see that INSHPO’s framework placed greater emphasis on business and soft skills. Two years on, in 2019, the occupational safety and health profession had continued to evolve at pace and IOSH’s commitment to building capability was stronger than ever. We embarked on research to inform the next generation of our competency framework, in consultation with members, employers and other key stakeholders. By looking to the future and drawing on insights from focus groups and desktop research, we expanded the business and behavioural elements in particular, and developed a highly comprehensive, needs-driven framework to guide the development of OSH professionals for some years to come. Our next step is to embed the framework in Blueprint 2.0 for a more accessible, intuitive professional journey which will link seamlessly with other resources.

Will the competencies be weighted?

No. The framework does not weight competencies as different roles will require different combinations of competencies.