Health and safety
This is always important, but particularly in a place like EDF Energy – a nuclear power operator – where we have responsibility for a very particular, unique hazard in the form of nuclear fuel and radioactivity. In reality though, chemistry roles always have significant responsibility for safety, whether that is by working in or having responsibility for chemistry facilities such as plants or laboratories, by having responsibility for people or by providing advice to others on chemistry topics. Maintaining high standards of professional practice is an important element in protecting the public, the environment, our colleagues and ourselves.
Employers are responsible for setting expectations on professionalism in their workplace and at EDF Energy, it’s a constant message that applies to everyone – from apprentices to senior managers. Organisations should support their staff to become members of relevant professional bodies, and develop the qualifications offered by those institutions. For chemical scientists at degree level this would often mean chartership, in the form of CChem, and for chemistry apprentices and technicians there are equivalent qualifications available, such as RSci or RSciTech.
The RSC has a key role to play in setting and maintaining professional standards for chemical scientists, by setting requirements for membership and chartership. The various levels of membership, plus the registrations such as CChem, RSci or RSciTech, provide a route for individuals where they can achieve their personal development and demonstrate their commitment to professional standards.
The role of accreditation
The RSC accredits degree courses for their ability to meet their standards for becoming members or chartered. You can visit the accreditation webpage to find out if your degree is accredited – if it is then you can use it to support your application for MRSC or CChem.
The RSC also accredits organisations. At EDF Energy we have an accredited continuing professional development (CPD) scheme with the RSC, which gives us a number of valuable benefits. It validates our arrangements, gives confidence to our key stakeholders, and allows us to benchmark against other organisations. When the RSC come to accredit us they share their experience of how other organisations develop their employees, and we can learn and improve from this.
The RSC expects all members to adhere to their code of conduct. It’s an important contract that people have with not only the RSC, but also with themselves if they practice chemistry professionally. This becomes even more important when you become chartered – it’s an opportunity to remind yourself of your duties as a professional chemist, including confidentiality, impartiality, trust and integrity.
Professional chemists also have an obligation to develop themselves continuously, whether they are just starting out or have achieved a senior position. If you hold CChem, that commitment is part of your obligation as a chartered chemist and the RSC spot-check chartered chemists each year to ensure they are fulfilling that commitment.
A bond of trust
For me, chartership is a bond of trust. If I put CChem after my name in a professional capacity, my stakeholders can place an increased value in the advice and guidance that I’m giving them – and they also know that I’ve committed to a set of important professional attributes.
In my view, Chartered Chemist still doesn’t have the same level of recognition as, for example, Chartered Engineer, and I would like to see that gap bridged. The goal for me would be that anybody who is looking to hire somebody in a position of responsibility in the chemical sciences should be looking for chartered chemist as an important requirement. A review of CChem is being carried out through our Admissions Committee, and I look forward to hearing about any recommendations that come out of this review.
Toby Underwood, Accreditation and Careers Manager at the Royal Society of Chemistry, explains how the Royal Society of Chemistry maintains its code of conduct.
At the Royal Society of Chemistry we take professional standards very seriously. Our guidance for professional practice is based on the three pillars of integrity, inclusion and leadership, which provide the foundations for ethical practice. From signing the code of conduct when you become a member to enhancing the demonstration of those standards via our professional development frameworks such Chartered status (CChem, CSci, CEnv or CSciTeach) or Registration (RSciTech or RSci), the RSC is here to provide that guidance and support as your professional body.
We have a robust mechanism for anybody to raise a complaint against a member who has contravened the code of conduct. Any complaint and evidence is first thoroughly investigated by the Professional Standards Board, and if appropriate passed to the RSC Disciplinary Committee that can issue sanctions. These sanctions range from asking individuals to enhance their continuing professional development through to expulsion from RSC membership.