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Using a health and safety consultant or advisor

Usually, managing health and safety isn’t complicated and you can do it yourself with the help of your workers. You know your workplace best and the risks associated with it.

If there’s a competent person within your workforce, use them in preference to a competent person from outside your business. You may need help and advice from someone outside if your business:

  • is large, complex or high risk
  • doesn’t have the competence to manage health and safety in-house

If you use a consultant or adviser from outside your business make sure they are competent, suitable and that you will get the help you need. As the employer, managing health and safety will still be your legal duty, even if you use someone from outside your business.

Competence and suitability

You must make sure the consultant or adviser you use is competent and suitable. It’s not uncommon for employers to spend a lot for advice that doesn’t help them comply with health and safety law, so it pays to source good quality advice. Make sure they:

  • have evidence of relevant training and knowledge, such as formal qualifications or practical experience of providing advice in your industry or area of work
  • are adequately insured

Establish what help you need

They should help you to better manage health and safety for yourself. Unless you’re clear about what you need, you probably won’t get the right help. Ask yourself if you need help with:

  • health and safety management across the business
  • putting things in place to control risks
  • checking and maintaining controls

Explain clearly what you need and ask them to confirm what they'll do and when they’ll do it. If you just need a one-off visit to enable you to manage health and safety in-house, be clear at the outset to avoid tying yourself to a long contract. Their advice should:

  • be specific to the risks in your workplace – generic advice often fails to identify and control key risks, and it can be difficult to identify risks unless they visit your workplace
  • be based on their knowledge and experience of your industry and processes
  • concentrate on practical action to control significant risks, not over-respond to trivial risks
  • recommend control measures that are reasonably practicable
  • not generate paperwork for the sake of it

Make sure they'll provide a proper handover to help explain the key risks and controls recommended. If you do not think they’ve provided you with a practical, sensible solution to your problem, ask for an explanation and see if there’s a simpler alternative.

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