If you are an employer or responsible for the health and safety within an organisation, you're likely to have come across the term - ‘competent person’.
In order for a business to carry out the correct health and safety duties, an employer must appoint someone competent to help meet these important duties. This should be someone who has the necessary skills, knowledge and experience for the role, or they should be trained to the correct standard to qualify as a competent person.
What Does Competent Mean?
A competent person must have the necessary knowledge, ability and skill to do something effectively and successfully. If you run a small and therefore low-risk business, you may be able to manage the health and safety requirements yourself, without the need of getting an expert or external help.
Regulations do not always have specific guidance on how to achieve competence as it will always depend on the specific area of duty.
How to Appoint a Competent Person?
When it comes to who you should appoint as a competent person, the law states that you should appoint a combination of either; yourself, one or more of your employees or someone external. This is a requirement under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999).
To support your organisation, no matter how small or large or the number of employees you have, or if you are a high or low-risk organisation, you must appoint at least one person to take on this responsibility. This person must comply with health and safety laws and take all reasonable steps to keep people from harm.
Straightforward health and safety will usually mean you can deal with them in-house, with either you or a colleague you have appointed to help assist you. With your experience of the job, you will know a lot of the risks already involved with health and safety in your workspace and how to best approach it, which is a good advantage. However, you should always check published guidance for your industry to make sure you are following all the rules correctly.
Complex Businesses or Work
If your business is complex then it will require higher levels of health and safety training, knowledge and experience as a more in-depth understanding of the business, possible risks and the site will be required. Relevant training for an existing member or members of your team could deal with such situations as it is encouraged by regulations that there should be a competent person in-house, which is preferred, rather than someone from outside the business.
If there is no suitable competent person in the business, then finding someone external will be appropriate. This way you can appoint someone that has the right skills, knowledge and necessary experience for the duty. Ask them about their formal qualifications along with their practical experience within the industry.
Competent Person Scheme
The government has a competent person scheme, so you can get registered to self certify certain types of both trade and installer types of building services. You do not have to get a council or private approved building inspector to check your work, and your customers will benefit from lower prices as a result.
This is voluntary and you can still use a local authority or a private inspector if you wish to do so. The scheme's operators and installers must follow certain rules to comply with building regulations and your work will be assessed to check you meet the level of competence standards that are required before you are approved.
What Happens if I Don't Appoint a Competent Person?
Failing to appoint a competent person can lead to prosecution as it breaches The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations Act, which can lead to fines, or in extreme cases even imprisonment.
At Beaconrisk, we can help you with any form of health and safety including appointing a competent person. Providing health and safety support, expert health and safety advice as well as health and safety training, we can help your business become a safe working environment.