Often, when the law requires particular items of a workplace to be thoroughly examined and tested it requires that the works be carried out by a competent person.

There is no precise guidance in law as to what constitutes a ‘competent person’. However, the competency of a person to carry out particular examinations or tests is a matter of fact on which the occupier or owner of the statutory equipment must be satisfied. In the event of legal proceedings, it will require to be demonstrated that the person chosen was indeed competent to carry out the statutory surveys.

The competent person should have such practical and theoretical knowledge and actual experience of the type of machinery or plant that is to be examined, as will enable him to detect defects or weaknesses, and to assess the importance in relation to the strength of the machinery or plant in relation to its function.

It is not sufficient for the person making the examination to be able to detect faults; he must also, from his knowledge and experience, be able to assess their seriousness. The competent person, whether an employee or from an outside organization, must be allowed to act objectively and in a professional manner.