Deciding who will help you with your duties
As an employer, you must appoint someone competent to help you meet your health and safety duties. A competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety. In many cases, you will know the risks in your business best. This will mean that you are the competent person and can carry out the risk assessments yourself.
You could appoint (one or a combination of):
- one or more of your workers
- someone from outside your business
Many businesses can develop the necessary expertise in-house and are well equipped to manage health and safety themselves. However, there are some things you may not be able to do for yourself and you may decide to get external help. Possible sources of advice include:
- trade associations
- safety groups
- trade unions
- consultants registered on the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR)
- local councils
- health and safety training providers
- health and safety equipment suppliers
Identifying and deciding what help you need is very important. If you appoint someone to help you, you must ensure that they are competent to carry out the tasks you give them and that you provide them with adequate information and support. If you are not clear about what you want, you probably won’t get the help you need.
Some points to consider when using external help
- Make sure you clearly explain what you need and check that they understand you. Ask them to explain what they understand the work to be and what they will do, when they will do it, and what they will charge you
- Check for evidence of relevant health and safety training/knowledge, such as formal qualifications or practical experience of providing advice in your industry/area of work
- Can they explain why they are competent to advise you on your particular problem?
- Is the person a member of a professional body? If you are in doubt, you can check with the professional body on what training, knowledge or qualifications are relevant and whether the person is listed as a member
- Shop around to find the right help at the right price. If you were buying equipment or another service, you wouldn’t always accept the first offer, so do the same with health and safety advice. You should also check that the person you choose is adequately insured
- Consider whether you have received the help you needed. Do you have a practical, sensible solution to your problem? Or have you ended up with something completely ‘over the top’ or a mountain of useless paperwork? If you are not happy with the solution, ask for an explanation and whether there may be a simpler alternative
- You can find consultants through Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR) an independent online directory to help you find sensible health and safety advice. Registered members have met set standards within their professional bodies, and are bound by a code of practice. They give proportionate advice, specific to your business needs, by topic, industry or location
Try to make sure that you get a good follow-up service and are able to get further advice on any issues that arise from implementing their recommendations.
If you need help with technical issues or very specific health and safety risks, you may need to consult external specialists. Find information on using a health and safety consultant or adviser.