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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

2. Getting external specialist advice

You need to get specialist or technical advice if you don’t have the knowledge, skills or expertise within your organisation to handle certain situations or hazards. For example, if you think there is a risk of legionella or asbestos exposure, and no one in your organisation knows how to handle this, you may need to get detailed specialist advice to help manage the exposure.

For this support you can contact

  • a specialist professional body
  • a health and safety adviser or consultant.

Many consultants are registered with the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR). The OSHCR lists their geographic location and any particular sectors or topic specialisms they have. All consultants on the register are bound by their professional body’s code of conduct, and are committed to providing sensible and proportionate advice.

View the Occupational Health and Safety Consultants Register (OHSCR​)

When looking for a consultant to assist your organisation, check that they

  • are a member of OHSCR or another professional body or organisation
  • have the correct training and knowledge
  • have professional indemnity insurance.

You should shop around for price and level of advice offered. Once you have a consultant who can help you, make sure their pricing is reasonable for you and that they are offering practical solutions. Describe the problems you have in as much detail as possible. You can expect the consultant or company to ask questions for further information.

You may need to use an external specialist

  • only once to solve one problem or issue
  • for longer, depending on your work hazards and the solutions required to make them safe
  • to help and support your existing internal competent adviser with specific issues.

These specialists should teach you, and your organisation, how to manage hazards of your activities.

Read more about getting specialist help with health and safety

You can also complete an action plan online to identify your strengths and weaknesses in basic health and safety.

​Complete an action plan