Qualified to help?

The register of consultants (not those employed as safety advisors within companies) who qualify to deliver advice on health and safety has now been established. This was a point raised in Lord Young’s report (common Sense Common Safety www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk) which has been accepted by the government in full.

To be listed on the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR) you must belong to one half a dozen bodies and be at a designated level.

So far, so good – but – and it’s a big ‘but’ niche skills don’t give someone the qualifications to deliver all aspects of health and safety. For instance – a Registered Member of the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors has a very specific specialism and may not know a lot about handling hazardous substances.

When it comes to fire – a huge risk element – there are no fire bodies listed at all on this register.

As I’m a Chartered member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (CMIOSH) I represent Risk and Safety Plus on OSHCR, but I’m not qualified to conduct medium to high risk fire assessments and wouldn’t put our clients at risk by attempting to carry one out – that’s why we’ve got a fire division with highly qualified fire engineers available to our clients.

There’s no differentiation on the OSHCR register – no specialisms listed so, for most people, it’s a case of working down a list. This was demonstrated recently when we received an enquirer looking for a Health and Safety advisor. They’d consulted the register and entered their postcode, which created a list of registered advisors in their area. They just started at the top of the list and worked down alphabetically!

We were at number 6 – but nobody else answered their phone! Sole practitioners have this challenge, but you would expect a professional business person to at least have an answering machine or an answering service rather than miss out on potential business.

It says a lot about specialists having an awareness of business as a whole – or not.

Risk and Safety Plus have an edge as we can offer our clients not only basic health and safety advice, but much more sophisticated offerings that integrate health and safety into business improvement to create an integrated management system and protect business continuity. We address the whole business not just one aspect of it.

Chris Hilder