Is your competent person, competent?

Under Section 7 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, there is a duty to appoint a Competent Person, but just how important is this appointment?

A safety consultant recently found themselves in court facing prosecution having provided insufficient and inadequate advice in several areas such as noise, vibration, and hazardous substances. It then transpired he was not qualified to give technical advice on these matters, identifying certain risks from exposure as ‘low’ and advising inappropriate control measures. In addition, the consultant failed to identify that the paints used by the client could lead to asthma in those exposed to the isocyanates the paints contained.

As a result, employees were exposed to harmful levels of noise, hand- arm vibration and chemical substances, that could have a detrimental effect on their health and wellbeing.

Remember, there are numerous ways you can check your Competent Person is Competent!

You can:

  • Request to see Risk Assessment and Method Statements
  • Request copies of Insurance Certificates
  • Check with the accrediting bodies they are registered with. E.g.: IOSH; IIRSM; IFE
  • Check for ISO Registration
  • Check for any Legal Proceedings
  • Check Companies House for their incorporation
  • Check for Training and Competencies

Consequences of insufficient or incompetent advise can turn out to be far more devastating than in the case described above. In this instance the consultant- who was self-employed- was ordered to pay £1400 for breaches of S3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.


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