IOSH health and safety assistance policy

Workers are your most valuable asset and you need to look after them – it’s the right thing to do and makes good business sense.

IOSH believes that competence is essential for providing adequate health and safety assistance and can help organisations to save lives and enhance their reputations, resilience and results.

The facts

  • Workers are your most valuable asset and you need to look after them – it’s the right thing to do and makes good business sense. It's also a legal requirement for you to protect their health and safety and that of others who could be affected by your work.  
  • As an employer, you must 'appoint one or more competent persons to assist' with health and safety compliance and the Health and Safety Executive says that being 'competent' means having:
    • Relevant knowledge, skills and experience
    • Ability to apply these, but recognise the limits of your competence
    • Necessary training to acquire and maintain your competence
  • You can get help in-house, from a professional outside your organisation, or a combination of both – what's important is competence to do the work.  

  • Poor advice could be damaging to people, whose lives and long term health can be put at risk, to businesses, wasting time and money and to the public, whose perceptions are tainted by negative media stories about decisions made in the name of health and safety.

  • research study found that decision-makers believed the top two solutions to preventing over-cautious decisions were definitive guidance and access to professional advice. 

Our position

IOSH believes that competence is essential for providing adequate health and safety assistance and can help organisations to save lives and enhance their reputations, resilience and results.

There is currently lack of clarity on this and unfortunately consultants can operate without any qualification or experience at all. We've therefore called for government to clearly define competence, promote national occupational standards on health and safety, and for the accreditation of consultants.

For some time we advocated a national competence-based on-line register of health and safety consultants, recognised by the government, to help assure quality and value of service and help protect workers, employers and the public.  

In March 2011, the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants’ Register (OSHCR) was launched. This voluntary register is supported by the main occupational safety and health professional bodies, the Health and Safety Executive and the Government.

IOSH maintains a competence-based membership structure, requiring Initial / Continuing Professional Development. We have a Code of Conduct that commits all members to good standards of professional behaviour. We provide free guidance on getting help with health and safety, consultancy good practice and promote the many benefits of good health and safety management via our Li£e Savings campaign.

IOSH’s online tool IOSH Blueprint can help health and safety professionals to assess their competence and create individual development plans. It will be further developed to help organisations to track health and safety competence across their operations. 

Relevant IOSH consultation responses