Who should I choose to help with my health and safety duties?
First things first, you need to appoint someone competent to help you meet your duties under health and safety law. This competent someone needs to have the skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety
If your business is low risk, like a shop or an office, then you can manage this without needing to spend out on expert help. See we’re even thinking about your bottom line! You might appoint yourself as a competent person or you could choose to appoint one or more of your staff.
If you’re sat there thinking “I am not sure we can manage all this in house” or “I don’t think we are low risk, don’t worry, you’ll just need to get some external help or advice.
It’s really important that when you are looking for help or advice that you know what you need, otherwise you might end up with costly advice on everything you were confident about and none at all, on the stuff you weren’t.
Getting Competent Advice
Right now, you probably manage most aspects of your business yourself, or with help from your staff. When it comes to health and safety, if you don’t feel confident, you might want or need some help or advice from an expert from outside your organisation.
You can find this help or advice in lots of different places, we recommend that you start with the ones on this list:
- trade associations
- safety groups
- trade unions
- consultants registered on the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR)
- local councils
- health and safety training providers
- health and safety equipment suppliers
Remember: The first and most important part of seeking help or advice from an organisation or person outside of your business is knowing what help you need. If you don’t know, nor will they and you’re likely to waste time and money.
Things to consider
We’ve put together these five steps to help if you are looking for advice or help from an organisation or person from outside your business:
1. Explain clearly what you need and then check that they understand you. Ask them to explain what they understand the work to be, what they plan to do, when they will do it by and what they will charge you for the pleasure.
2. Make sure that you have a competent person helping or advising you. Look for evidence of relevant training/knowledge, qualifications or experience of providing advice or help to businesses in your industry. If they are competent then they should be able to explain why they are competent to help or advise you. You could also check if they are a member of OSHCR.
3. As with everything that you outsource, get a few quotes and make sure that you’re getting the right person for a good price.
4. Make sure that the person that you want advice or help from is insured.
5. Once you have had the help or advice, make sure it is the advice that you wanted when you started this process. You should be provided with a sensible and practical solution to the issue you raised. If you end up with a huge pile of pointless documents and no real solution, ask for an explanation and explore if the process can be simplified or streamlined. Remember, when the advisor leaves, it’ll be you and your team that have to use the process.
A good advisor will include some support or follow up within their quote. This helps with dealing with any teething problems once you implement the new health and safety process or solution.
The Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register is a public register of UK-based health and safety advice consultants, set up to assist UK employers and business owners with general advice on workplace health and safety issues.
It provides an up to date list of health and safety advisors who have a qualification that is recognised by the professional bodies that are involved with the OSHCR. They have a very easy to use search function which enables you to search by industry, geographical location and even by specific topics. They also have a really great knowledge base, which we use regularly when supporting clients and writing guides just like this one.
Consultants on the register must have undertaken a degree level qualification, have at least two years’ experience and engage actively in a continuing professional development scheme. All consultants who join the register are bound by their professional body/ bodies code of conduct and are committed to providing sensible and proportionate advice. All of this means that we think the OSHCR is a great place to start.
You can check it out for yourself by clicking the link below: