Health & safety compliance - competent help
The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations
1999 require employers to appoint one or more `competent` persons
to assist them in ensuring general health and safety compliance.
Such persons must have sufficient time allocated to them in order
to fulfil this function, and also be given the necessary means to
do so, having regard to the size of the organisation and the risks
to which employs are exposed. Such persons can be directly employed
or can be an external Health & Safety Adviser. The approved
Code of Practice which accompanies the Regulations suggests that
the employment of external help should only take place if there is
no relevant competent worker within the
However, the appointment of an external Health and Safety
Advisers does not absolve the employer from his general health and
safety responsibilities. Two recent cases have highlighted this.
The first involved a company which pleaded guilty to health and
safety offences but stated that these offences were committed as a
result of poor quality advice received from their external safety
adviser. The court reiterated that the appointment of an external
health and safety adviser did not remove the company`s
responsibilities and it also emphasised that the choice of external
adviser is important. The employer must ensure the competence of
the external adviser. Both the company and the Health & Safety
Adviser were fined and ordered to pay costs.
Similarly in the second case both the company and its Health
and Safety adviser were successfully prosecuted for collective and
individual failures in respect of the carrying out of risk
These cases serve as a reminder that the choice of any
external adviser must be based on recognised and genuine health and
Posted on: 22/07/2011
This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.
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