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What is a Competent Person?

Latest USP Briefings | 21st January 2022 | 4:00 pm | 10 min. read

What is a competent person

For the majority of companies, meeting your Health and Safety responsibilities can seem like a heavy burden. However, you are not on your own!!

Section 7 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (Management Regs) states that “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”. 

Therefore, it is vitally important that every company understands what a Competent Person is and what they do. This article will inform you as to what a Competent Person is, their responsibilities, who can be a Competent Person, as well as their qualifications.

What is a ‘Competent Person’ and what do they do?

So… what exactly is a Competent Person? Well, put simply, a Competent Person is someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge that allows them to assist your organisation in respect of Health and Safety.

Therefore, a Competent Person is a dedicated individual/group of people, that assists your organisation in achieving the right level of governance needed, in line with the organisations undertakings.

The kind of tasks which a Competent Person can undertake include:

  • Risk Assessment Creation
  • Policy Drafting
  • Implement and oversee a Hazard Reporting System
  • Chairing Safety Meetings

This is not an exhaustive list, as the tasks required of the Competent Person depend on the status of the organisation in respect of Health and Safety and what initiatives are looking to be put in place.

Who can be a Competent Person?

So now you know what a Competent Person is and what they do, we now turn our attention to who exactly can be appointed as a Competent Person.

Your organisation can appoint yourself, one or more of your workers, or someone from outside your company as the Competent Person.

Now whilst it may seem more cost effective to either appoint yourself or a member of your organisation as the Competent Person, this is not as simply as you may think.

Under the Management Regulations, should you appoint either yourself or one or more of your works as the Competent Person, the organisation will need to ensure that the right amount of time is made available to them to fulfil the functions of the role. Therefore, depending on the size and complexity of tasks required of the Competent Person from the organisation, it may take them away from their existing role, therefore impacting the organisation in a negative way.

Does a competent person need qualifications?

Above we confirm that you can either appoint yourself or a number of your workers to fulfil the role of the Competent Person. However, given the gravity of this role, you may be asking yourself if there are any qualifications that either yourself of your workers need in order for them to undertake the role.

Well…It may come as a surprise that whilst a Competent Person is the individual who ensures compliance with Health and Safety Law, there are no specific qualifications that they should hold. HOWEVER, the Management Regulations state that ‘a person shall be regarded as competent where he has sufficient training and experience or knowledge of other qualities to enable him to properly undertake the measures required’.

So what training, qualifications or knowledge is needed you might ask!

Here at USP, when looking for a Competent Person, we would recommend looking for someone who has an understanding of your industry, understands the risks involved in the work and what (documentation/training etc) is needed to mitigate these risks. Furthermore, an individual with qualifications in Health and Safety would be preferable, as they will understand how to compile the relevant documentation needed for the organisation.

Alternatively, if you are looking at training someone within the organisation in Health and Safety related qualifications, we would suggest looking at the IOSH Managing Safely, or NEBOSH related courses, as these provide a strong basis in general Health and Safety. Again, time will need to be made available to any individual who is undertaking training to fulfil a company role.

Looking for a Competent Person?

Here at USP, we act as the Competent Person for many clients to help them satisfy the Health and Safety Requirements for their businesses.

Our Competent Person service includes the drafting of Risk Assessment, Toolbox Talks and Guidance documents, as well as general guidance on all Health and Safety Matters. Furthermore, we provide you with up-to-date regulation and legislation changes and are on hand 24-7 for any questions that you may have.

If you want to know more about of Competent Person services, please do not hesitate to contact us via email at info@universal-safety.co.uk or call us on 01903 529401.

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