Arinite Blog


Health and Safety Competence

Category: Health & Safety | Bryan Richards Twitter | Published on: Oct 30, 2015 | Updated: Dec 12, 2016 Read more: Health & Safety

UntitledWe all know the term competence, but what does it mean?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines competence as a combination of the training, skills, experience and knowledge that a person has and their ability to apply them to perform a task safely. Other factors such as attitude and physical ability can also affect someone’s competence.

All employees need to be competent to carry out their work, but an employer has a legal duty under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to get help from a competent person to ensure that the requirements of health and safety law are met. The level of competence required will depend on the complexity of the situation and the particular help needed.

When getting help, you should give preference to those in your own organisation who have the appropriate level of competence before looking for help externally. However, the use of an external competence has many benefits, including: access to expertise that you could not find in house and, the peace of mind that someone is giving independent advice on whether you are complying with the law.

How do you find a competent person?


If you run a low-risk business, health and safety is something you can manage without needing to buy in expert help. Here you could appoint yourself as a competent person or one or more of your workers.

However, if you are not confident of your ability to manage all health and safety in-house, or if you are a higher-risk business, you may need some external help or advice.

There are a number of different sources of advice, including:

  • Trade associations.
  • Consultants registered on the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR).
  • Local councils.
  • Health and safety equipment suppliers.


Deciding what help you need is very important. Unless you are clear about what you want, you probably won’t get the help you need.
Things to consider when using external help:

  • Make sure you clearly explain what you need and check that they understand you. Ask them to explain what they understand the work to be and what they will do, when they will do it and is their fee.
  • Check for evidence of relevant training/knowledge, such as formal qualifications or practical experience of providing advice in your industry/area of work. Can they explain why they are competent to advise you on your particular problem? Are they a member of Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR)?
  • Check that the person you choose is adequately insured.
  • Consider whether you have received the help you needed. Do you have a practical, sensible solution to your problem?

The OSHCR provides an up-to-date list of general health and safety advisers who have a qualification recognised by the professional bodies participating in the scheme. If you require general external health and safety advice, you can search the register for a consultant by industry, topic, county or keyword(s).

How Arinite can help

Arinite acts as the competent person for many organisations. We do this by taking on a lead role or assisting competent persons within the organisation.

We are proud of our good reputation in:

  • Providing peace of mind and pragmatic recommendations.
  • “Keeping it simple”.
  • Allowing organisations more time to concentrate on core business.
  • Reducing the chance of negative publicity.
  • Creating a positive health and safety culture and reputation.
  • Working to the latest guidance provided by the HSE, including HSG65 (2013).

If you want to know more about competent persons or you would just like an independent view on how your organisation is managing health and safety risks then contact us.

Contact us

Arinite clients appreciate we provide practical, no-nonsense advice about what you need to do to establish and maintain a safe and healthy working environment. My team of health and safety consultants take pride in keeping health and safety simple.

If you need to call upon our expert assistance, or just for an informal chat, please call me on: mobile 0780 361 2948, office 0207 947 9581, or drop me a line at

Bryan Richards 30th October 2015

Arinite Ltd, Warnford Court, 29 Throgmorton Street, London EC2N 2AT

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