WHY UK BUSINESSES ARE REQUIRED TO HAVE A COMPETENT PERSON IN HEALTH AND SAFETY
Appointing a competent person to help you meet your health and safety regulations is one of the most necessary things you can do as an employer. A competent person in this context can be defined as someone with the right and necessary skills, experience, and knowledge to help you manage health and safety in your workplace. If your business happens to be a low-risk business, you should be able to manage health and safety yourself without needing to acquire the help of an expert.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE COMPETENT?
Being competent simply has to do with having:
- The right or relevant skills, knowledge, and experience
- Being able to apply the factors above properly, and
- Having the necessary training to help acquire and maintain these factors.
How to achieve competence, or the specific qualifications required to be qualified as competent, are not always outlined by The Regulations as competence is determined by the area of work and specialism.
WHO SHOULD I CONSIDER OR APPOINT AS A COMPETENT PERSON?
According to the requirements made by the law, you can appoint (one or a combination of):
- One of your workers, or more, and
- Someone from outside your business
Any of the above must have the relevant Health & Safety qualifications and experience!
Straight forward health and safety issues can be dealt with in-house either by yourself or by a worker appointed by you to provide assistance. Since you are more experienced on the job, there's a better chance of you knowing the risks the work involves and how to deal with them. But it is quite important that you go through the published guidance for your specific industry.
WHAT IF MY BUSINESS HAS TO DO COMPLEX WORK?
Since the work is complex, it is quite obvious that it will deal with higher levels of knowledge, training, and experience since you'll be needing more problem solving skills and more in-depth understanding. You might have some staff in your company who might be able to deal with these issues if they had the right training. This is to be promoted and encouraged as the Regulations allows that when you have a competent person in-house, rather than appointing someone from outside the company to take care of the situation, your in-house competent person should be allowed to do it.
However, if you need the expertise of someone outside your business, you should establish the fact that anyone you employ has the necessary qualifications, experience, skills, and knowledge required to deal with the health and safety situation. Ask about the practical experience they have had of your industry, their formal qualifications, and also ask if they are a member of a professional body.
If you feel getting external help is the best thing to do, there are a number of different external sources you can get help from. Some of these include