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Competent advice

Why you need a competent person, and how to get one

As an employer, it is important that you understand

  • the work activities undertaken by your workers
  • the dangers these activities create
  • the steps needed to keep your workers safe.

Sometimes you, or members of your work force, will have the knowledge, experience and skills to identify these dangers and how to protect against them.

However, you might not have that knowledge within your organisation. In these cases, it is important that you know where to get extra specialist help and support.

  1. Appointing a competent person
  2. Getting external specialist advice

1. Appointing a competent person

As an employer, you are legally required to have access to a competent person to help with health and safety duties. Whoever you choose should have the correct knowledge and skills. You can appoint

  • yourself
  • a member of your workforce
  • one or more external advisers to help you.

Your level of competency depends on different factors, such as the nature and risks of your business. For example, the knowledge and skills needed of an appointed person in a family-run coffee shop, will be very different to someone who works in an oil refinery.

You should support the chosen person to understand the hazards in your workplace to help keep workers safe.

You, or your competent person, can look for advice from

  • The Health and Safety Executive or Local Authority Environmental Health Departments
  • trade union representatives, either within your workplace or externally
  • members of your local safety group – SGUK
  • local health and safety training providers
  • local health and safety equipment suppliers.

If you are searching for advice online, make sure that it is

  • from a reputable source
  • up to date
  • relevant to the work situation you are experiencing
  • from the country where your work activity takes place.