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July 14, 2020

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Consultant fined for providing ‘incompetent’ health and safety advice

A self-employed independent health and safety consultant has been fined £1,400 for breach of legislation for giving advice to clients, despite not being properly qualified.

Health and safety ‘expert’ Clive Weal got it wrong on hand arm vibration, workplace noise and the control of substances hazardous to health, jeopardising the wellbeing of clients’ employees, Luton Crown Court was told.

The HSE’s investigation found that the Mr Weal incorrectly identified risk from exposure to hand arm vibration as ‘low’ and advised clients to use ‘anti vibration gloves’ as an appropriate control measure. He also failed to identify that paints containing isocyanates can cause asthma.

HSE said that the poor and incompetent advice resulted in a lack of remedial action being implemented to prevent employees being exposed to levels of noise, hand arm vibration and chemical substances that may have a damaging impact on their health.

Clive Weal of Torksey, Lincolnshire, was found to be ‘incompetent’ at advising his clients in the assessment and control of risks from workplace noise, hand arm vibration and substances hazardous to health. He pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £1,400.

HSE Specialist Inspector Parmjit Gahir said after the hearing: “Employers are more likely to use external consultants to provide assistance in complex situations where a higher level of competence is required.

“How consultants achieve competence is up to them. However, they will have to be able to satisfy employers that they have a sufficient level of competence for the job in hand.

“Being a member of a relevant professional body, which sets competence standards for its members and operates continuing professional development schemes is one way of helping; as is presenting evidence of relevant experience such as references from previous clients; or obtaining qualifications.”

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Joe Bloggs
Joe Bloggs
3 months ago

Noise, vibration and other such health hazards are difficult areas of specialism at times and more information, in my opinion, needs to be made cheaply/freely available on how to do the ‘sciency’ stuff in those areas. When I was a less experienced consultant I struggled to get to grips with the top-end stuff and it took a lot of work to get to grips with it over a few years, as NEBOSH courses are ill-equipped to help, specialist courses are very expensive and literature available is pretty pricey too.

Paul Cookson
Paul Cookson
3 months ago
Reply to  Joe Bloggs

A consultant should be suitably qualified to identify the hazards and be able to advise suitable controls that should be implemented, as per most decent H+S qualifications give you this ability. A consultant does not need to necessarily know all the science, but should be able to recommend that the business contracts a service from a specialist for things beyond their skill, i.e. air monitoring, LEV testing, vibration monitoring etc. Sounds like there were some very basic oversights from that chap. Also reasonable to expect a business to do a bit of homework themselves prior to appointing a consultant.

Mick
Mick
3 months ago

Well said Joe,My experience is that when you explore all avenues of advice and then ring the HSE help lines its (sort it out yourself!)

ANDREW
ANDREW
3 months ago
Reply to  Mick

The information is already freely available you just need to be able to read it and understand it. Failing that pay for the course 🙄

Steve Pulling
Steve Pulling
3 months ago

It is a shame that a consultant is giving poor advice that could end up injuring persons who are trying to make a living. It would be interested to know if the company employing the consultant were found to be negligent for not employing a competent consultant.
It always help to ask consultants if they are a member of a safety professional organisation, and how high they are in the membership.

John Smith
John Smith
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Pulling

He was self employed

Iain N. Milne
Iain N. Milne
3 months ago
Reply to  John Smith

What does being self employed or working for a Company have to do with this? Membership of IOSH is all personally driven. Until I retired, I was CMIOSH (Chartered Member of IOSH). Although I was employed, it was my own effort out of hours that allowed me to qualify as a Chartered Member. It is hard work, but worth it and IOSH are always there there to help and advise on correct and incorrect ‘projects and reports’.

Pam Phillips
Pam Phillips
3 months ago

It would be interesting to know what qualifications he actually had.

Harry
Harry
3 months ago
Reply to  Pam Phillips

True, he may even have had none. Another example of why qualifications and professional body membership should be mandatory for H&S managers, advisors and consultants.

John Smith
John Smith
3 months ago

I agree with the criticism of him and would add that the company who employed him deserve criticism also-it is their duty to employ qualified people and their own procurement processes should have identified lack of recognised qualifications and membership of appropriate bodies.

Nigel Dupree
Nigel Dupree
3 months ago

Seriously lucky that only around 10% of employers tokenistically compliant with ineffective 1993 DSE Regulation expediently ignoring international standards although, not convinced pleading ignorance of the UK BSI ISO 30071.1 Screen Colour Contrast Optimisation in conjunction with WCAG 2.1/2 website accessibility Colour Contrast Validation will fly in Government having set a September 2020 deadline for their Accessibility Regulations.

Darren Robathan
Darren Robathan
2 months ago

I am new to the Health and Safety world by having a huge host of E-Learning courses made by SAP Litmos, there are lots on Health and Safety including a HAVS and we can set this up for a small fee per user, am I missing something? It’s not particularly expensive to get an e-learning module on this that comes with a guarantee backed by SAP for the quality and accuracy of the course. I am aware this alone is not enough to satisfy H+S requirements but I’m sure in most cases this would show an employer has done all… Read more »