Choosing a Health and Safety Consultant

Choosing a health and safety consultant to support your business is a difficult decision.  How do you, as an outsider, make sense of different qualifications and accreditations?  How do these take account of experience in your sector?

It is not easy to find balanced advice.

It is essential that you employ a “competent” consultant.  Competence is made up of training and experience.  The qualifications you will most often see quoted are those provided by NEBOSH – the National Examining Board in Occupational Safety and Health.

Two qualifications are often quoted – the NEBOSH Certificate, and the NEBOSH diploma.  Both of these are credible.

The Certificate says that the person has completed a two week course, and is said to be suitable for someone starting a career in health and safety, or for a manager with health and safety responsibilities.

The Diploma is usually a two year course, and is a much higher level of qualification.  This is the qualification held by HSE Inspectors.  This qualification constitutes “competence” in health and safety.

IOSH – The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health – awards different levels of membership depending on the qualifications held and the experience and competence demonstrated.

Full competence across the board is demonstrated by CMIOSH.  This goes to Chartered Members of IOSH.  MIOSH is held by people who have met the competence requirements, but not yet the additional checks for Chartered status.  Grad IOSH tells you that someone has passed the Diploma, but is not yet held to be fully experienced.  Tech IOSH would normally go to an experienced and capable practitioner who has not met the Diploma requirement.

Complicated, isn’t it?  A shortcut is to look for the OSHCR status – this stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Consultant’s Register and was established by HSE.  It is intended to highlight consultants who meet the competence requirements, and also hold insurance etc.  It is useful to make sure that a consultant you are considering is on the Register.

None of this will tell you what experience a consultant has in your sector.  The qualifications are generic and cross all sectors.  On that, only an interview will tell you!

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