What is a “Competent Person” and why do I need one ?

A “Competent Person” is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety.

As an employer you must appoint someone competent to help you meet your health and safety duties. If you are not confident of your ability to manage all health and safety in-house you need to consider obtaining external help or advice.

Does managing health and safety have to be complicated ?

No! Managing health and safety doesn’t have to be expensive, complicated or time-consuming. Health and safety law usually applies to all businesses, and as an employer you will be responsible for ensuring you comply with the requirements. H&S costs should be proportionate to the size and nature of your business, and for small, low risk businesses, the actions required will be straightforward.

Do I have to have a Health and Safety Policy ?

As an employer you should have a health and safety policy which describes how you will manage health and safety in your business. If you have five or more employees you need to write down your policy. It should clearly state who does what, when and how, and must be communicated to employees and regularly reviewed.

How do I control the health and safety risks in my business ?

As an employer you are responsible for controlling the risks in your business. Although this is something you may do as part of your overall management, the completion of a risk assessment will ensure you have properly considered and addressed the risks. Risk assessments should not create vast amounts of paperwork, and should be an effective means of identifying and controlling your significant risks.

Do I need to formally consult with my employees about health and safety ?

Yes, you do have to consult all your employees on health and safety matters. This does not need to be formal or complicated. It can be achieved by establishing a good two-way communication process where you listen and talk to your employees about health and safety. How you consult your employees will depend on the size and nature of your business.

Do I have to pay for health and safety training for my employees ?

You must provide clear instructions, information and adequate training for your employees. This doesn’t necessarily mean paying for training courses – the amount of training required would be based on the nature of the role, the findings of your risk assessment and the individual’s needs. A number of training options are available including one-to-one, toolbox talks, instruction and supervision, online modules, as well as more traditional classroom training courses.

What workplace facilities do I have to provide to meet health and safety requirements ?

You must provide the right workplace facilities for everyone in your workplace, including people with disabilities. This doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. You need to consider health, safety and welfare issues. If your workplace is a higher risk one, such as a construction site, there may be additional specific legislation you need to be aware of.

Do I need to provide first aid kits ?

You must have first aid arrangements in your workplace. What type of first aid measures you have will depend on the size and nature of your business, and what you identify in your risk assessment.

A minimum requirement for first aid is:

  • A first aid box stocked with suitable first aid items
  • Someone appointed to take charge of first aid arrangements
  • Information for employees giving details of first aid arrangements

Depending on your business you may also need to have a trained first-aider.

Do I have to display the Health and Safety Law poster ?

If you employ anyone you have to either display the approved Health & Safety Law poster or provide each worker with a copy of the equivalent pocket card. If the poster is displayed it must be where workers can easily read it.

The poster summarises national health and safety law and tells workers what they and their employers need to do.

Do I need employers’ liability insurance ?

If your business employs people you will probably need employers’ liability insurance. If an employee is injured or becomes ill as a result of the work they do for you, they can claim compensation from you. However, if you have taken reasonable steps to prevent accidents or harm to your employees (and the injury or illness was caused after 1st October 2013), you shouldn’t have to pay compensation. But, if a court finds you liable, employers liability insurance will help you to pay any compensation for your employees’ injuries or illness.

OSHCR logo
Carolyn Dukes – Registered Consultant OSHCR