To ensure the safety of everyone on your premises and remain on the right side of the law, you must appoint a Competent Person (or people) to help you meet your health & safety legal duties.
As per the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999, every employer must “appoint one or more competent persons to assist him in undertaking the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him…”
What is a Competent Person?
A Competent Person is the designated person that makes sure your company’s health & safety legal responsibilities are being met. Although having formal qualifications isn’t a legal requirement, it does help, as does having well-rounded knowledge of how your business operates. According to The Health & Safety Executive (HSE), a Competent Person is defined as: “someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities that allow them to assist you properly.”
You can appoint yourself or one of your employees to be a Competent Person or you can outsource for one from outside of your business.
What are a Competent Person’s duties?
Generally speaking, a Competent Person is involved in overseeing, inspecting and auditing the working practices of others and any equipment that’s used within the business. Some of the duties your Competent Person may carry out include:
- Understanding relevant safety regulations and tracking legislation changes
- Conducting regular inspections to identify hazards
- Helping the employer to conduct thorough risk assessments
- Assisting to put in place adequate hazard controls
- Communicating Health & Safety policies to the wider business
- Arranging Health & Safety training
Due to the nature of the job and the responsibility involved, it’s important you choose a person you can trust. Managing health & safety will always ultimately be the responsibility of the employer, but you can get help, advice and assistance from your appointed Competent Person.
When it comes to appointing a Competent Person, there are three key factors you need to look for:
- Experience – have they performed a similar role before? Are they aware of the laws and regulations that apply to your business? Do they know how to properly complete risk assessments and put in place adequate hazard controls as a result?
- Competence – do they have the right qualifications to perform the role of Competent Person in your business? If you have a particularly complex workplace do you need someone with more formal safety qualifications?
- Attitude – does the individual take workplace health & safety seriously? Are they able to spot even the smallest risks? Can they communicate your business’s health & safety needs to the rest of your team?
What are the risks of not having a Competent Person?
If you don’t have a suitable appointed Competent Person, or you don’t have one at all, in the event of a serious accident you could be prosecuted following an investigation by the HSE or the local authority because you’re breaching the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.
If you’re found to be breaching the regulations, your business could be handed a large fine or, in the worst cases, it can even lead to a prison sentence.
Working with Southalls as your Competent Person
We understand that finding the perfect Competent Person for your business can be challenging, which is why we already act as the Competent Person for hundreds of businesses nationwide.
When you partner with Southall’s we become an extension of your team. We can help you build a watertight health & safety policy for your business, and provide you with managed health & safety services, which only 10% of consultancies in the UK currently offer.
All of our consultants are highly qualified with experience across a number of industries, making them ideally qualified to act as your Competent Person, as per the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.
For more information on how our Competent Person role can benefit your business, you can get a free Health and Safety consultation with the expert team at Southalls.