Competent Person: Who is it and How Can You Become One?

Competent Person: Who is it and How Can You Become One?

24th February 2021

Perhaps you may have heard the phrase “competent person” before being used in different settings in reference to workplace health and safety. But what, exactly, does it mean and what do you need to become a competent person in your workplace?

Is it being the most knowledgeable and most experienced in your particular line of work? You may also be the employer or manager and every staff obeys all of your commands. Does this make you a competent person? Well, none of these is enough to make you one. A competent person is the one who has both the knowledge to identify a safety hazard and the relevant authority to correct it.

Please read on to learn more about how you can become a competent person.

What Do You Need to Become a Competent Person?

While you may receive one of the best training from a third-party trainer, your employer is the only entity that can confirm your competence. And this is for a good reason. Your third-party trainer will hardly give you the authority to correct a hazard or stop work for safety reasons.

With the right knowledge to become a competent person, the worker still needs to be given authority by the employer. For instance, if a competent person notices that the safety equipment used does not meet the relevant safety standards, they should have the authority to request for replacement by CE marked fabrications that have been approved by the EU.

Your employer may have arranged for the training to be provided by a third-party trainer or consultant, which is very okay. But the employer may (from a liability standpoint and their best interest) need to evaluate your competent person’s abilities after the training to determine if you absorbed any relevant information.

After the training, employers should keep a close eye on their employees in the field to see if they’re able to recognise hazards. Any reason to doubt the employees’ competence abilities should be addressed immediately. Workplace safety should, at no point, be taken for granted.

Who Needs to Undergo Competent Person Training?

Certain work sections require some level of competence from the worker to increase their chances of safety. Sections such as excavation, fall protection, and scaffolding are the main areas that require proper training for you to become competent. You’ll need to undergo safety training and classes to acquire the relevant knowledge, experience, and certification to work in such and related areas in the workplace.

There are other sections and pieces of equipment that you will hardly find specific training sessions for them. These include ladders, stairways, and other work at height projects. It’s important that you arrange to include these in your training sessions to ensure the workers are competent to use these pieces of equipment and work in hazardous areas.

Do not assume that every worker you hire already knows how to use a ladder, for instance. Ensure everyone is properly trained before they begin working. You also need to select the right person to undergo the training. One who understands the importance of safety and knows the responsibilities that come with the role they’ll be taking. Ensure to inform other workers who your competent person(s) is.

If a representative of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) were to visit your workplace today, they would want to know if you have a competent person and will evaluate their level of authority and knowledge.