How to appoint the right competent person for your business

Document of a Citation employee providing Method Statement support to businesses

When it comes to meeting your Health & Safety responsibilities, having support from someone that’s sufficiently skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable may sound like a ‘nice to have’ – but in reality, it’s not an option, it’s a legal must-have.

The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 outline the requirements for businesses owners to select “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

But what does that mean for you? As a business owner, you need to appoint a specific person whose duty it is to make sure that your business is meeting its Health & Safety legal obligations. That person could be you, an employee who knows the business really well, or you have the choice to work with a third party who can act as a competent person on your behalf.

What does a competent person do?

A competent person is responsible for giving your working practices, premises and equipment a thorough inspection to make sure that your workplace is confidently meeting its Health & Safety responsibilities.

The overall responsibility for managing Health & Safety in a business will always fall on the business owner, a competent person can’t take that responsibility from you. But what they can do is give you advice and help, from a place of knowledge and experience, to make sure that you’re getting everything right.

The kind of tasks a competent person can carry out include:

  • Keeping up to date with legislation and regulations and making sure your business does what it needs to do to comply with any changes
  • Regularly inspect your premises for risks and hazard
  • Help you to complete robust risk assessments, and keep them updated over time
  • Work with you to put proper control measures for any risks and hazards you find in your risk assessments
  • Assisting you in engaging your people with your Health & Safety policy – from communicating your stance to arranging necessary training.

  • It’s a list of big and important tasks, so when it comes to working with a competent person for your business, it’s important that you choose someone who really knows what they’re doing.

What to look for in a competent person

There aren’t any specific qualifications a competent person needs to have according to the law. However, as this is a crucially important role when it comes to your business complying with Health & Safety law, it’s definitely worth working with someone who had a good understanding of your business, how it works and what the inherent risks and hazards are.

There are some qualities we’d advise you look out for when appointing a competent person that will make your decision a bit easier to make. They are:

  • Their attitude – you want someone who takes workplace Health & Safety seriously and has a keen eye for spotting risks. Also, consider how adept they’d be at getting your people engaged with your Health & Safety practices.
  • Their experience – while your competent person doesn’t need any formal qualifications, they still need to be experienced and trained enough that they can fulfil the role, according to the Health & Safety Executive.
  • Their competence – ideally, you’ll choose someone who has fulfilled a similar role before. A solid understanding of Health & Safety law is a huge benefit, as well as being able to track updates so your business continues to comply with any changes in regulations.

If you’d like to hear more on our top tips on what to look for in a competent person for your business, you can watch our video here.

How can Citation help?

When you choose to work with Citation, we work to empower you to find the right competent person for your business. Our approach is always centered on collaborating with you and giving you the skills to create a robust Health & Safety culture in your business.

While we don’t act as your competent person, we do work with your competent person to help you and them benefit from the years of experience our Health & Safety team bring to the table.

From helping you select the right person for your business and guiding you in the risk assessment process to keeping you up to date with legislation and regulation changes, your competent person will have industry-leading support, 24/7.

If you’re already a Citation and you want our help selecting the right competent person, you can call our Health & Safety advice line on 0345 844 4848.

And if you’re not a Citation client yet, give our team a call on 0345 844 1111 to chat through your business’s needs and how we can help!

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