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June 17, 2016

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Safety & Health Expo: The Competent Person in 2016

Join prominent Fire Safety expert Howard Passey of the FPA at The Safety and Health Expo at 11am on 21 of June as he discusses the role of the competent person in fire safety in 2016. Howard’s talk will use recent legal precedent and best practice solutions to demonstrate how the role is applicable today, more than ten years after the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order was brought into practice.

Fire service data in England indicates that the main reason for failure to comply with legal obligations, leading to enforcement action, is that duty holders fail to carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment. Added to this problem is the emergence of evidence of inadequate fire risk assessments in premises that have suffered multiple fatality fires.

However, legislation does not require the fire risk assessment to be undertaken by a competent person – in order to avoid an implication that every duty holder needs to employ the services of a fire safety specialist.

This focus on ‘satisfactory outcomes’ has led to confusion for many business owners. Howard will consider the options available in his talk.

In the case of smaller organisations, it is arguably more appropriate for the fire risk assessment to be carried out by the responsible person or someone in their employment using the appropriate government guide to assist (the guides are occupancy specific).

It is unlikely in such cases that this person will have detailed and specialist fire safety knowledge or experience; but on the plus side, they will know the business – the premises, activities carried out there and managerial arrangements – which does provide significant benefit.

At the other end of the scale, many larger organisations employ one or possibly more fire safety professionals. In such cases, they may act as both the fire risk assessor and competent person (appointed to assist the duty holder in undertaking the preventative and protective measures that are identified as a result of the fire risk assessment).

Although many businesses may have one or more competent persons who are appropriate to assist in ensuring that the organisation meets the requirements of the legislation, they may not have the requisite competence or resources to carry out the fire risk assessments themselves. Consider the example of a larger organisation spread across numerous sites, but with potentially only a small team of people to cover health and safety and fire safety issues. In these situations, the responsible person will often look to appoint a suitably qualified fire risk assessor, or alternatively provide existing personnel with additional training to hone their skills.

In all cases there are many factors for the responsible and competent persons to consider, Howard will discuss these in more detail at his talk. Please visit stand R1700 on day one at 11am.

For more information on the seminar schedule at the Safety and Health Expo click here.

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