Although this article is Health and Safety based it can and should apply to most industries when hiring experts

There are some things you may not be able to do for yourself and you may decide to get external help. Other things you can do, this will mean that you are the competent person and can carry out the tasks yourself. Irrespective, you have some choices

You could appoint (one or a combination of):

• yourself

• one or more of your workers

• someone from outside your business

Many businesses can develop the necessary expertise in-house and are well equipped to manage health and safety themselves. However, there are some things you may not be able to do for yourself and you may decide to get external help.

Identifying and deciding what help you need is very important. If you appoint someone to help you, you must ensure that they are competent to carry out the tasks you give them and that you provide them with adequate information and support. If you are not clear about what you want, you probably won’t get the help you need.

Some points to consider when using external help

Make sure you clearly explain what you need and check that they understand you. Ask them to explain what they understand the work to be and what they will do, when they will do it, and what they will charge you

Check for evidence of relevant health and safety training/knowledge, such as formal qualifications or practical experience of providing advice in your industry/area of work

Can they explain why they are competent to advise you on your particular problem?

Is the person a member of a professional body? If you are in doubt, you can check with the professional body on what training, knowledge or qualifications are relevant and whether the person is listed as a member

Shop around to find the right help at the right price. If you were buying equipment or another service, you wouldn’t always accept the first offer, so do the same with health and safety advice. You should also check that the person you choose is adequately insured

Consider whether you have received the help you needed. Do you have a practical, sensible solution to your problem? Or have you ended up with something completely ‘over the top’ or a mountain of useless paperwork? If you are not happy with the solution, ask for an explanation and whether there may be a simpler alternative