FAQ: Health and safety competent persons

Frequently asked questions

What is the ratio of safety personnel to the amount of workers  to comply with legal standards?

There is no such figure that exists for legal compliance. However, every employer is required under law to appoint a Competent Person (or Competent Persons) to assist them meet their legal health and safety obligations. This means an employer must appoint someone competent to provide sound advice on all matters of health and safety. The level of competence and number of persons required will depend on the complexity of the situation and the particular help needed.

There is no simple definition of what a “competent person” is at it will vary from employer to employer. In large organisations the competent persons will not only need to be qualified in health and safety management, but also may have to have a detailed knowledge of the processes involved. This is particularly the case in high hazard industries. In smaller workplaces – in particular those with only a small number of staff where the risks are well regulated – a lower level of competency might be acceptable.

However, in most medium and large sized organisations the minimum level of expertise would normally be Chartered Membership of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health. This is the main professional body in the field and Chartered membership is an indication that the person is qualified and that their experience is up-to-date. However, the employer should still check the experience of the person.