News & Resources

23 Sep 2020

Access to competent advice – your legal obligations

It is a legal requirement under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations for you as an employer to have access to competent health and safety advice.

But what actually defines competence?

Essentially competence is defined 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, you should 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?

Having considered the list of questions above, if you and have identified that your organisation has a competence person gap from a health and safety perspective, you have two options to resolve this:

  1. Employers should look to appoint one or more of their 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.

If you appoint an external ‘competent person’ they will assist you in making sure that you are complying with your legal obligations, through their knowledge, understanding and expertise.  This could mean that you appoint a dedicated consultant to be assigned to your business, who 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 Pragma can help

At Pragma and Associates, we have over 20 years’ experience in providing occupational health and safety services to clients of all sizes across a range of sectors. We know what good looks like, and our clients can support this.

We 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.

If you would like to find out more about our competent person services, please contact David Paveley.

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