The technical bit. Regulation 7 of The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states that "Every employer shall, subject to paragraphs (6) and (7), appoint one or more Competent Persons to assist him in undertaking the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory provisions and by Part II of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997."
That’s a bit vague!
Yes, unfortunately it is, and it gets worse. The legislation goes on to say that a person shall be regarded as ‘competent’ if they have sufficient training, experience or knowledge and ‘other qualities’. Which still leaves a lot of questions unanswered for worried employers.
Do I need a health and safety competent person in my workplace?
The requirement to have a health and safety competent person applies to every workplace. It doesn’t matter if you employ one person or one hundred. There are no exceptions.
Who can be a health and safety competent person?
Ask the following questions:
- Has the identified individual had training? For example, a course that has been accredited by IOSH.
- Does that person have practical knowledge? In other words, just attending a theory course is not enough.
- Do they have the appropriate skills? They need the technical ability to develop solutions to problems.
- Do they have practical experience? You won’t get away with appointing a school leaver on their first day.
- Are they familiar with the organisation? They need to know the ins and outs of the way you function, who does what and be knowledgeable about the hazards.
- Do they have good awareness? They need to be alert enough to recognise hazards.
- Have they been given authority? They need to be able to immediately correct any hazards, or be able to influence someone who can.
I don’t have anyone suitable. Is it OK to appoint someone who doesn’t work here?
The Health and Safety Executive offers good advice here: if you are not confident of your ability to manage all health and safety in-house, or if you are a higher-risk organisation, then you may need some external help or advice.
If you really want to make sure you’ve got this covered, you need to tick all the boxes for training, experience and knowledge, which amounts to having a Health & Safety professional on hand.
How Towergate can help
We have so much confidence in the quality of our risk management consultancy and health and safety partners, that we can arrange for them to act as your competent person.
To find out more contact your Towergate adviser.
About the author
Simon Broome SIIRSM Tech IOSH has over 25 years' experience around risk management, honed through his industry background and working on operating software and management systems. He is a Specialist Member of the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management and a Technical Member of IOSH, and also holds the NEBOSH National Certificate in Fire Safety and Risk Management.
Read risk management articles by Simon
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- Health & Safety Bulletin - May 2019: Recent Spate of Fires Caused by Electrical Faults Suggests Businesses Need to Check Electrical Systems
- Information Update - Health & Safety
- Insurance Update - Claims Defensibility Review Service
- Risk Bulletin - Health & Safety Competent Person
- Risk Alert – Why is it So Important to Have a Business Continuity Plan?