Who is your ‘Competent Person’?

By Nathan Jones, Director & Head of Health & Safety at Club Insure Risk Management

You may, or may not, be aware that under regulation 7 of the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999, all employers must appoint a competent person to help you meet your health & safety duties. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) define the term ‘Competent Person’ as “…someone who has the necessary skills, experience and knowledge to manage health & safety…”. The number of ‘Competent Persons’ within an organisation will vary depending on the nature of the business. You may already have a defined competent person’ internally, or you may be engaging the services of an external consultancy, either way, it is important that they can demonstrate:

  • A knowledge and understanding of the work involved, the principles of risk assessment, hazard prevention and current health and safety applications;
  • The capacity to apply this to the task required by the employer in the form of problem and solution identification, monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of solutions and the promotion and communication of health and safety and welfare advances and practices.

Any competent person employed to help with health & safety must have evidence of relevant knowledge, skills, experience and training for the tasks involved. Depending on the level of risk to the organisation, it may mean that you need to have a NEBOSH qualified person engaged. But, don’t forget, the appointment of a competent person does not absolve the employer from their responsibilities under the Health & Safety at Work Act.