Specialist help

When you may need specialist help

You may need specialist help if your business has hazardous or complex processes. However, for many organisations a manager, leader, or competent member of staff should be able to take the necessary action to comply with the law.

Other sources of information include industry bodies, eg professional institutions for engineering disciplines, local councils, HSE, the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the British Safety Council, the British Occupational Hygiene Society and Healthy Working Lives Scotland

What the law says on specialist help

If you need to engage outside help, you must remember that you cannot devolve the management of health and safety risks to others. However, specialist or consultant help can be used to contribute to your overall health and safety management.

Using advisers does not absolve the employer from responsibilities for health and safety under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and other relevant statutory provisions under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. It can only give added assurance that these responsibilities will be discharged adequately.

It is essential that the specialist or consultant is competent to provide your organisation with correct, proportionate advice.

Useful sources of advice include:

Additional checks for employing an occupational physician

If there is a need for medical support in the workplace it is not sufficient to engage any doctor. Specialist knowledge is required in occupational medicine - doctors with a Diploma in Occupational Medicine (DOccMed) are able to give basic advice with some understanding of main issues affecting work and health.

Members or Fellows of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (MFOM or FFOM) have had in-depth training and are fully knowledgeable in occupational medicine.

Associates of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (AFOM) have core knowledge in occupational medicine, but are not specialists in this field. 

Some examples of specialist help

Specialist Expertise


  • Field of vision, sight lines
  • Manual handling/repetitive tasks
  • Workspace layout
  • Body size
  • Aspects of guarding and containment
  • Demands of tasks/equipment on people
  • The equipment used and whether it is appropriate for the task
  • Effects of the physical environment, including lighting, temperature and humidity on people
  • Issues of fatigue and opportunities/defences for human failure



  • Assessment of biological hazards
  • Advice on risks and control measures to prevent or control health risks
  • Sampling for micro-organisms

Noise and vibration specialists

  • Measure levels
  • Advice on causes, elimination and practical solutions to reduce exposure

Occupational health professionals (doctors and nurses)

  • Diagnosis and treatment of work-related disease (doctors)
  • Assessment of risks to health and advice on managing those risks
  • Health surveillance and other health checks
  • Fitness-for-work issues
  • Advice on pre-employment health screening, sickness absence and ill-health retirement
  • Providing health education, advice on rehabilitation after illness or injury

Occupational hygienists

  • Assessment and practical advice on preventing or reducing health risks from chemical, biological and physical agents arising from work activities
  • Environmental monitoring


  • Provide treatment and rehabilitation advice
  • Advice on preventing musculoskeletal disorders

Radiation protection advisers

  • Advice on complying with legislation on the use of ionising radiation in the workplace
  • Conducting environmental monitoring

Specialist engineers

  • Advice on issues including control and instrumentation (C&I), electrical, chemical, mechanical engineering
Updated: 2021-10-22