oneSource Health and Safety Team Logo

What is health and safety competence?

In health and safety we talk a lot about competence, so what does it mean? Competence is a term which covers a number of activities undertaken in schools and colleges:

The basic definition of competence applies to all these roles, the difference arises in the tasks which the roles need to be competent to perform. A person is said to be competent if they have sufficient knowledge, training, experience and the appropriate attitude to undertake the task.

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 employers are required to appoint one or "competent persons" to assist them in ensuring that they comply with their legal duties in relation to health and safety (Please see What is a competent person? for further information).

Management competence relates to the skills which the manager/supervisor needs in order to manage the risks to which their staff are exposed. This includes awareness of their legal responsibilities, risk assessment skills and accident investigation skills. They will also need some employee competencies depending on their role. Senior Managers/directors/governors also need to be competent. Their competence requirements relate to awareness of legal responsibilities and monitoring skills.

Employee competence relates to the skills which the employee needs to be able to work in a safe and healthy manner. The competencies required will vary with the role(s) the employee performs in the school or college.

Further information can be found in the FAQ What health and safety training do we need?