Access to competent advice – your legal obligations

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It is a legal requirement for you as an employer to have access to competent health and safety advice – FACT.

But what actually defines competence?

There is a selection of guidance and best-practice advice available to you that will provide you with a list of traits for what constitutes competence. However, essentially it is marked as an individual who has sufficient training, experience, knowledge or ‘other qualities’ within a particular field of expertise – e.g. health and safety.

To assist you in identifying if you have a competent individual in your organisation, it is recommended that you ask yourself the following questions:

  • Has the person received relevant and applicable training – e.g. an IOSH accredited or a RoSPA approved course?
  • Does the individual have a detailed level of practical knowledge?
  • Does an individual have the appropriate skills that they needs to develop effective solutions to problems?
  • Do they have a sufficient level of practical experience?
  • Are they familiar with the business – e.g. if work individuals are lone working, they must be knowledgeable about lone working policies and procedures?
  • Do they have the awareness to identify potential hazards before they become incidents?
  • Have they been given authority to correct any potential hazards before they escalate?

Next actions to take

If you are now in the position of having asked yourself the previous questions and have identified that your organisation has a competence person gap, you have two options that you can take to move forward.

  1. Employers should look to appoint one or more of its internal employees to provide the health and safety assistance that is required; or
  2. If there are no relevant competent workers available/if the level of competence is insufficient to assist you as the employer in complying with health and safety law, you should look at enlisting an external service or person.

What should your competent person do?

Every organisation is required to comply with all relevant health and safety legislation, and this is a legal responsibility that cannot be passed on to anyone else, however it is important to note that your competent person will have a degree of liability.

The role that your competent person should play is assisting you in making sure that you are complying with your legal obligations, through their knowledge, understanding and expertise. In a consultancy role such as through Pennington Choices, this could mean that a dedicated consultant is assigned to your business, and will conduct periodic visits and carry out workplace inspections. Your competent person should also be on hand to provide support whenever you need it, for instance by phone or email.

How Pennington Choices can help…

At Pennington Choices we have over 15 years’ experience in providing occupational health and safety services to clients of all sizes across a range of sectors including; property, healthcare and sports and leisure. We know what good looks like, and our clients can support this.

Our expert and qualified Health and Safety Consultants can assist you by acting as your competent person to ensure that you are complying with The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, 1999.

How can I get in touch to find out more?

If you would like to find out more about our competent advice service, you can do so by getting in touch with our experts today. This can be done either by email or by calling 0800 883 0334.

You can also find out what your organisation’s current health and safety position is by downloading our FREE health and safety self-assessment here.

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