Competent Health and Safety advice

Health and Safety professionals are getting fed up with the bad press they have been receiving over the past months and years. This poor publicity has portrayed health and safety as being bureaucratic and lacking in common sense.

The reality is that Health and Safety, when properly applied:

  1. Has saved many lives
  2. Has reduced injury in the workplace and improved health
  3. Has reduced wastage in terms of human misery, damage to plant and equipment, loss of skills and reduced productivity
  4. Has saved costs, increased profits, improved reputations and generally fostered better business.

So Why the Bad Press?

The root cause is a "lack of competence" on the part of some health and safety practitioners. There are too many well-meaning people who are making decisions but who lack the competence needed to get the balance right and to ensure actions are appropriate for the levels of risk.

Without competence, people lack confidence and are motivated by unjustified concerns about what might happen, the consequences for careers and the looming possibility of litigation. They are inclined to err too far on the side of caution and their decisions give rise to the many myths about health and safety. Myths like:

  • People don't have to take any responsibility for their own health and safety
  • Health and safety rules take the adventure out of playgrounds
  • Calling the HSE for help will result in your company being inspected
  • Adults cannot put plasters on children when they cut themselves

The list goes on and you can view many more on the HSE website at

To combat this nonsense and to restore the reputation of health and safety as a legal framework to protect people from genuine risks, IOSH (Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) have launched a campaign entitled "Get the Best". The aim of the campaign is to raise the level of competence amongst those responsible for health and safety.

Who are they targeting?

Competence is needed at all levels:

  • All employees are responsible for their own health and safety as well as that of their colleagues. Consequently, they need information about the risks they face, the precautions in place to manage the risks and what their duties are in this regard.
  • Managers, in addition to their responsibilities as employees, are also responsible for those they manage. Their decisions can make a huge difference to levels of risk. They need to know their legal duties and how to discharge them.
  • Directors of an organisation have a legal responsibility to monitor health and safety performance and to ensure structures and systems are in place that effectively manage risks.

All this assumes that someone is available who knows what the law requires, understands about risks and the best methods for managing them.

Some organisations have their own in-house health and safety advisors, but many cannot afford to employ such specialists. There are many larger corporations who prefer not to increase their headcount with people who are not directly involved with their organisation's core business.

Whether you employ in-house people or hire external consultants, their level of competency is key to success, including the positive commercial benefits your business should expect from good health and safety.

What is competence?

In regard to health and safety, the law makes reference to competency but does not define what it means.

In light of this, IOSH have proposed their own definition of competence:

"Competence is about being able to do something effectively and efficiently. It has three main building blocks - knowledge, skills and experience - all of which overlap"

"Competence is also about knowing your limitations and when to call on advice from others who have more knowledge, skills or experience"

They then define in more detail what they mean by "Knowledge", "Skills" and "Experience"

IOSH has also published a number of other booklets that address the same issues.

What about EDP Health and Safety Consultants?

We take our responsibilities very seriously when it comes to offering advice to our clients.

Many of our consultants are Chartered Safety and Health Practitioners and others are actively working toward this standard. In all cases their qualifications are appropriate to the type of work to which they are assigned. We also positively encourage our consultants through training and Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

But qualifications alone are not enough. Together, our consultants have in depth knowledge and experience of a wide range of sectors including, for example, commerce, industry, leisure, charity, government, transport, emergency services and more. All this experience is available to support all our customers.

We set ourselves the highest standards, which means you can be confident that you will always receive the best service from us. If for any reason you feel our service is less than satisfactory, you can call on our guarantee to put things right.

Whether it's a one-day training course or a fully outsourced health and safety management system, you can rely on our staff to provide a fully competent service for your employees and your business.

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