Promising Certainty in an Uncertain World

Business Inisghts

While every organisation has had to make adjustments to ensure that their employees can continue to work safely over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring that health and safety compliance does not interfere with daily working activities can prove challenging, particularly as lockdown restrictions ease and guidance changes.

Why do I need a competent person/health and safety consultant?

Despite the ever-changing COVID-19 legislation and guidance, keeping up with the latest legislation can prove overwhelming to both new and experienced business owners. Whether your staff continue to work remotely on a permanent basis or you must now accommodate for the increased level of occupancy on company premises, there are a number of factors that businesses must take into account in order to remain fully compliant.

For this reason, you should consider the appointment of a competent person and/or external consultant, both of whom can cut through the noise and provide employers with the peace of mind that their business remains fully compliant across all areas of health and safety.

What are the advantages of appointing competent person and/or health and safety consultant within my organisation?

A competent person is an individual who has sufficient training, knowledge and experience to identify risks/hazards and implement appropriate solutions within the workplace. They will help organisations to comply with all relevant health and safety legislation, taking on all of the necessary precautions to keep employees and third parties from harm. Ideally, the competent person/s will be appointed internally within your organisation and will therefore be familiar with your working environments and their associated risks.

Alternatively, your organisation may require an additional level of support with health and safety compliance. This could be due to the lack of competency required to manage health and safety in-house, or perhaps the need for a specialist skill that may not be within the remit of your competent person/s. In these instances, it would prove beneficial to appoint an external consultant, who will use their expertise and experience of health and safety management across a wide range of sectors and adapt this to your business’ requirements.

While each have their distinct advantages, both competent person/s and health and safety consultants are committed to ensuring a safe and compliant working environment for employees. Their advice and guidance are tailored to the individual needs of your organisation, evaluating risks and implementing such control measures as:

  • Ensuring a safe amount of space/distance between employees

  • Maximum capacities within lifts, breakout/common areas and kitchens/canteens

  • Staggered arrival and departure times

  • Risk mitigation where activities require staff to work closer than social distancing guidance allows

  • Reduced/increased staff numbers and the impact on risk assessment/s

  • Reduced/increased staff numbers and the impact on fire safety

  • Reduced/increased staff numbers and the impact on first aid cover

  • Controlling the number of contractors and visitors on site

  • A phased introduction of additional staff onto company premises until pre-COVID levels of occupancy are achieved.

Can health and safety experts help my business to navigate the risks associated with remote working?

When the first national lockdown was implemented, organisations had no choice but to deal with home working arrangements as best they could. However, with many employees now choosing to work from home on a permanent or near-permanent basis, there has never been a more pressing time for organisations to ensure that the health and safety of remote workers is taken as seriously as that of office-based staff. Both competent persons and health and safety consultants will identify the risks, hazards and control measures required to ensure the safety of your remote working staff. Areas that will fall under their remit include:

  • Assessing the risks posed within a home working environment

  • Providing the correct equipment for the home workstation

  • Ensuring the maintenance of effective communication on home/lone working policies and procedures by employers, as well as proof of these being understood and accepted by home working employees

  • Safeguarding the wellbeing of remote workers who may require different managerial or team support to reduce feelings of isolation/detachment.

As the nation continues to ease its way out of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring compliance with health and safety legislation should remain at the top of every employer’s list of priorities. Whether you choose to assign a competent person internally, engage external support via a dedicated consultant or try a combination of the two, the wide range of options open to businesses when it comes to health and safety compliance offers a degree of reassurance during these uncertain times.