Sheffield Occupational Health and Safety Association :: View topic - Employing a Consultant

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T.Stubbs
Executive Committee
Executive Committee


Joined: Apr 08, 2008
Posts: 192
Location: Chesterfield, Derbyshire
PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2007 5:20 pm Reply with quote Back to top
Hi there all

Please could someone help!!!!

A company I work with is looking at using a consultant to deal with their health and safety but I am confused (easily done!).

The Management regs state that a competent person should be appointed (this is clear enough and I was led to believe that appointing a consultant would be sufficient for this) but I have also read, and I quote "The regulations require that the competent person be appointed in-house, ie an employee. Appointing an external consultant as the sole competent person is not generally permitted".

Please could someone clarify.

Thanking you all in anticipation.  
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C.Jerman
Executive Committee
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Joined: Mar 11, 2008
Posts: 148
Location: Chesterfield, Derbyshire
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 1:34 pm Reply with quote Back to top
An interesting and perennial problem. IOSH have just produced two very helpful guidance documents on just this very subject. One is a guide for those wishing to become a consultant and the other is a guide aimed at employers wishing to engage a consultant.
They haven't hit the bookshelf just yet but when they do they will be found at http://www.iosh.co.uk/index.cfm?go=technical.guidance
Hopefully they won't be too long now.

However, as an interim answer. Yes, you can appoint an external consultant as your sole source of advice - but not without considerations. Prior to the 1999 changes, the regulation was a bit more free and easy allowing people ot basically farm out their responsibility. In a landmark case against a major supermarket, it was realised that in order to serve the business well, the appointed person must actually understand the business. In short, the changes (the spirit of the changes) require employers to make a case for not appointing an internal person first and foremost, and then if using an external source, having someone that can 'sense check' the advice. Now clearly this all depends upon who you are. I wouldn't expect ICI for example to appoint a sole trading consultant to manage their entire UK operations. But then ABC engineering down on the Wicker could hardly afford to appoint a full time Chartered Fellow as their source of advice - it would be nuts! So it is still horses for courses. Make your case - I'm afraid. But yes you can appoint externally under certain conditions. The HSE (and HSC) are seldom so prescriptive as a rule. We are in a risk based culture now - you decide and as long as you can justify your decision, you have not been negligent. Now you may be wrong at the end of the day, but that's different to being negligent. One the HSE will forgive, the other they won't.

Chris
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Trying to bring a sense of proportion to all of this.
 
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T.Stubbs
Executive Committee
Executive Committee


Joined: Apr 08, 2008
Posts: 192
Location: Chesterfield, Derbyshire
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 1:42 pm Reply with quote Back to top
Thanks for this Chris it is very useful.

The company is essentially a low risk environment but does have workers 'in the field'. I feel the company is trying to cut costs, as their internal H&S officer has left and they are not wishing to appoint someone else. I strongly feel it is going down the wrong path and in the end will cost them more.

Tracey  
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