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A brief history of an assessor - Sean Watson


Hello, my name is Sean Watson and I assess Health & Safety.

I first started assessing in 1997; training and assessing construction based qualifications. At the time, it was acceptable to complete an NVQ in a training environment and I assisted lots of people wishing to embark on a career in joinery and completing their NVQ Level 2.

When I assessed, I used tolerances provided by CITB as these were the standards. Being joinery, the tolerances for scribes and mitres is 0.5mm. Through training and assessment, I helped individuals attain the required standards, which enabled them to pass time constraints and tolerances.

Standards of practice and assessment have always been valuable to me and when I passed my internal verifier qualification, I moved more into management.

I stand by my integrity and have ensured that throughout assessment and internal quality assurance the health and safety qualifications I have delivered are of the highest quality possible.

Throughout my career, I have always assessed health and safety as it has been a mandatory core. I have therefore ensured and indeed instigated health and safety practices throughout all work activities.

Whilst managing a group of assessors undertaking construction based assessment, joinery, brickwork, plastering it became apparent that a health and safety understanding was lacking throughout. I found that in some cases my assessors had missed key aspects of safety whilst assessing, taking photographic evidence that clearly depicted a breach. On many occasions, I contacted my assessors and discussed the instance and stated that the evidence could not be used as it clearly showed unsafe practice whilst also invalidating the assessment process due to health and safety being an integral aspect of the qualification criteria.

Throughout the standardisation process it became ever more important to engage with health and safety competencies in ensuring that the assessment process was risk assessed prior to anything taking place.

Having worked in some challenging environments, it has given me a good understanding of how employees view health and safety and I have witnessed some appalling behaviours.

More people get injured and die due to having a poor attitude to health and safety than many other casues of death. “It will never happen to me, I’ve done it this way for years”. How many times have we heard that saying?

Assessing health and safety with professionals around the world, I am honoured to speak with them and read their many accounts of practicing health and safety, in what are some extremely dangerous environments. My role now is one of ensuring that the health and safety standards are kept as they were intended, high, whilst protecting the standards of practice.

Why NVQ?

Well the NVQ route suits many individuals better. When I speak with candidates, I hear too often that they are enjoying the process of gathering evidence against the element criteria and enjoy answering the knowledge questions. Why? Because it is thought provoking and challenges what might be the status quo. Candidates report that by completing the NVQ level 5 health and safety course for example, it has increased their productivity, it has instigated a new process or procedure and just as important, they report that the challenge of assessment and gaining feedback on areas that required further thought, gave them increased confidence that the process of NVQ assessment was one that carried a quality outcome.

I challenge and send back units daily, this is what keeps the NVQ practice to a high standard and once complete, candidates can say that their experience whilst not an easy one, has challenged their knowledge and practices to become better health and safety practitioners. So, if you’re thinking of taking a Diploma Level 5 in Occupational Health and Safety Practice and would like to complete it online with SVT whilst working, I can say with certainty, you will be happy in the knowledge that you have earnt your qualification!

Take care and take care also of those who know no better.

Sean Watson – Grad IOSH