Appointing a competent person

As an employer, you must appoint someone competent to help you meet your health and safety duties. A competent person is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety.
If you run a low-risk business, health and safety is something you may be able to manage yourself without needing to buy in expert help.

What is meant by ‘competent’?

Being competent means having:

  • the relevant knowledge, skills and experience
  • the ability to apply these appropriately
  • the necessary training to help acquire and maintain this

The Regulations do not always outline specific qualifications or how to achieve competence as it will depend on the area of work and the specialisms within.

Who should I appoint as a ‘competent person'?

To meet your requirements under the law you could appoint (one or a combination of):

  • yourself
  • one or more of your workers
  • someone from outside your business

You can probably deal with straight forward health and safety issues in-house, either yourself or by appointing one or more of your workers to assist you. From your experience of the job you may know many of the risks involved and how best to deal with these, but you should also look at the published guidance for your industry which can be found on our website.

What if my business involves complex work?

Complex work will obviously require higher levels of training, knowledge and experience as more in-depth understanding and problem solving will be required. There may be staff in your company who could deal with such situations if they had the relevant training. This is to be encouraged as the Regulations state that, where there is a competent person in-house, they should be appointed in preference to someone from outside the company. However if you do need to look outside your business for this, you should satisfy yourself that anyone you appoint has the necessary skills, knowledge and experience. Ask about their formal qualifications, their practical experience of your industry, or are they a member of a professional body.


Key legislation

Please note that these links are to the original legislation, visitors should verify for themselves whether legislation is in force or whether it has been amended or repealed by subsequent legislation.