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February 23, 2011

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Competence standards for health and safety regulators to be piloted

The drive towards greater competence in the provision of health and safety services has accelerated with the launch of a new pilot programme to implement a set of agreed standards for regulators.

The Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO), in collaboration with the HSE and local-authority environmental-health and trading-standards officers, has developed a common framework of professional standards covering 11 core skills, including advising and informing, assessing risk, enforcing legislation, promoting compliance, and working effectively with business.

The knowledge frameworks currently being piloted cover health and safety, food, housing, and animal welfare, with a view to making them available to all local authorities towards the end of this year. They may also be extended to cover licensing and fire-safety regulation.

The standards have been developed to address the fact that there is currently no common approach to how the competence of regulators is achieved and maintained. The aim is to ensure that local-authority staff who regulate businesses are operating to an agreed and nationally recognised set of core competencies, and that developmental needs will be quickly and easily identified.

Chair of the LBRO, Clive Grace, said: “Everyone depends on professional regulators, all day, every day, to keep us safe at work, on the railways, at home; to ensure the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat is safe and healthy; to ensure we are not ripped off, and a thousand more reasons besides. Professional standards are essential to delivering effective regulation, and depend on a robust means to develop and maintain them beyond the qualification stage to ensure they remain relevant to priorities.”

The approach is part of the Government’s plan to end tick-box regulation, which has also seen the development of the accreditation scheme for health and safety consultants. Indeed, the LBRO envisages its framework being used by practitioners in the private sector also, as they require many of the same competencies.

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11 years ago

I agree that regulators need competency checks. I have been a local authority EHO for 10 years and have am CMIOSH, however not all regulators are and with cuts in LA/HSE budgets training has been reduced to a minimum. It must be remembered that enforcers are not responsible for doing risk assessments for businesses and will not be looking in detail at every aspect of health and safety on an inspection, that is the responsibility of the competent person employed by the company.

11 years ago

I agree that the regulators should now focus on their own competencies. That said, I’m not sure a ‘one size fits all’ type qualifaction is practicable and it will turn out just to be a paper or PR exercise.

Given the debacle with the Consultant’s Register I don’t have any confidence that the regulators will get this right either.

11 years ago

After the focus on consultants initiated by Lord Young, it’s high time that some questions were asked about the competence of the army of regulators.
I’ve just read the latest report on the Buncefield incident. That was a top tier COMAH site which the Competent Authority (HSE + EA) should have been carefully monitoring -a ‘service’ for which they even charge the operator. So why didn’t they pick up problems there? They seem to be the only ones who have not been criticized.