A Step by Step Guide to the Conscious Competence Ladder for Health and Safety

The teaching and learning of health and safety processes can be a difficult task no matter whether you are the teacher or the pupil. As the teacher, it is up to you to try to make it as easy to comprehend as possible and one way of doing this is to use the Conscious Competence Ladder (CCL).

What is the CCL?

The CCL splits people into four degrees of learning and introduces a range of learning routines for students at each different level of ability.

Stage 1

Stage one is unconscious incompetence which is the level for people who do not realise the extent of what they are yet to learn. It is also for anyone who is not concerned with the regulation of health and safety methods.

Stage 2

Stage two is conscious incompetence which is for people who are aware of the extent of what they do not know, and will begin to comprehend the idea of health and safety measures. They may remain discouraged by the amount of work they still need to do to fully understand but will endeavour to do so.

Stage Three

Stage three is conscious competence and people at this level will hold high comprehension of health and safety matters and will be engaging with associated practices.

Fourth Stage

Unconscious competence: The final level will consist of learners who have completely grasped the ideas surrounding health and safety and will fulfil the procedures without even thinking about them with too much effort.


When a mistake is made in the learning process, make sure that you treat each case separately dependent on which level they are at. Some students will be able to accept these mistakes easier than others, especially if they are at the stages where they are conscious of their need for information. Take care to be a little more delicate with those who may not be aware that they need further training so as not to dishearten them too much!

Learning Plan

It is a good idea to help students who are struggling by creating a plan of action for learning and to give them sections to work on to make it more manageable. This can be particularly evident for those who are at the ‘conscious incompetence’ stage and students are increasingly likely to feel discouraged by this; try to give extra stimulation to these pupils to help them progress.

Confidence Increase

Once students begin to feel more confident and eventually reach the conscious competence stage, they should be able to further their skills by on-going learning and practice. As the teacher, keep supporting them but make sure that their knowledge is sometimes stretched so as to keep them alert and always on the ball in regard to health and safety.

Knowledge Gained

It is easy to become complacent once learners have reached the unconscious competence stage, particularly as those who are most skilled will find it as effortless as breathing! Guide your students into encouraging others and make sure they continue to put their skills into practice regularly for optimum results.

If you would like to know more about Health and safety training visit the site. We offer a range of CIEH level 2 award in health and safety in the workplace, whatever your requirements are.

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