Appoint a competent person for health and safety


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.

You could appoint (one or a combination of):

  • yourself
  • one or more of your workers
  • someone from outside your business

Many smaller businesses can develop the necessary expertise in-house and are well equipped to manage health and safety themselves. You probably already deal with most issues yourself, with the help of your staff, and can do the same for health and safety.

To help you decide whether you can deal with health and safety yourself, see health and safety basics for business.

Getting external health and safety advice

If you are not confident in your ability to manage health and safety in-house, or need help with a specific issue, you may decide to get external help.

There are a number of different sources of external advice. These include:

  • health and safety training providers
  • health and safety equipment suppliers
  • local councils
  • safety groups
  • trade associations
  • trade unions
  • consultants

Considerations when using external help

Make sure you clearly explain what you need and check that they understand you. Ask them:

  • what they will do
  • when they will do it
  • what they will charge you
  • whether they have the necessary personal indemnity insurance

Check for evidence of relevant training and knowledge, such as formal qualifications or practical experience. 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. You should also check that the person you choose is adequately insured.

Finally, 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.

Getting specialist advice

If you need help with technical issues or very specific health and safety risks you may need to consult external specialists. Here are some examples of specialist advisers and how they can help you:

  • engineers can give specific advice on their specialist areas such as ventilation, noise, water treatment, chemical processes and industrial equipment inspection.
  • occupational hygienists can advise on reducing risks to health from chemical, biological and physical agents in the workplace
  • occupational health professionals (doctors and nurses) can give advice on risks to health, disease and other medical issues
  • ergonomists can help prevent musculoskeletal disorders, eg back injuries and upper limb disorders at work
  • microbiologists can assess micro-organisms likely to be present and advise on measures to prevent or control risks to health
  • radiation protection advisers can help will complying with ionising radiations laws
  • non-ionising radiation advisers can recommend measures to prevent or control exposure
  • physiotherapists can carry out risk assessment, provide treatment and rehabilitation, give advice on the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders and advise on workstations and equipment
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