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What is Competence?

Competence can be described as the combination of training, skills, experience and knowledge that a person has and their ability to apply them to perform a task safely.

When it comes to managing Health and Safety in the workplace, competence is a fundamental requirement.

Certificates and qualification don’t directly achieve competence, but can be helpful, indeed in some high risk areas can be a requirement to demonstrate competence.

What does the legislation say?

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 Section 7 states “Every employer shall ….. appoint one or more competent persons to assist him in undertaking the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory provisions”

Who can be a Competent Person?

  • You
  • One of your workers
  • Someone from outside your business (e.g. a H&S Consultant)

Often, managing Health and safety needn’t be complicated, and you or one of your workers (people who understand your organisation and risks your operations pose) can be the competent person. If there’s a competent person within your workforce, the HSE advise you use them rather than a competent person from outside your business.

If your operations are high risk or your organisation does not have the competence internally, then you can appoint and outside party. As the employer, the appointment of an outside party does not remove your legal obligations to manage Health and safety in your workplace.

What does the Competent Person do?

A competant person recognise hazards in your business and help you put sensible controls in place to protect workers and others from harm. They will understand the legal requirements for Health and Safety within their specific sector, and ensure the controls put in place provide a compliant workplace.

Why is a Competent Person so Important?

There are a number of reasons why the competent person’s role is important:

  • Legislation – You have a legal duty to appoint one or more competent people
  • Management of Risk – A competent person can help a company manage risks effectively. They can identify potential hazards, assess risks, and implement measures to control or eliminate them. This can help to reduce accidents and injuries, and protect employees, customers, and other stakeholders.
  • Compliance – A competent person can help a company to comply with relevant regulations and standards. This can help to avoid fines, legal action, and damage to the company’s reputation.
  • Efficiency – A competent person can help an organisation to improve its operational efficiency and productivity. They can identify opportunities for risk mitigation, process improvements, cost reductions, and other efficiencies that can benefit the organisation.

The health and safety of your staff is important and must form an integral part of your operations from both a regulatory and operational perspective. Employers should appoint the correct competent person(s) in order to do this and provide them with the time and resources to undertake the role.

If you require any further information or are seeking more advice on the Competent Person role , please contact us .


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