O, SH**, CR**

No, sorry, I think it’s OSHCR or it could be CHROS or SHOCR, take your pick. It’s official, the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register is going live at the end of the month. It’s not the first of its kind. Lot’s of professional bodies (including IOSH) have had lists of consultants for years. We all keep lists of people who owe us money.

The difference with this list is it’s the first that HSE will be able to recommend to the oppressed group known as SME (small and medium sized enterprises, not the first mate in to Captain Hook in Peter Pan). It’s easy to get on the list if your face fits. That is, you have to have the right combination of qualifications and grade of professional membership, signing you up to professional development and an assurance that you will only give proportionate, sensible advice. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that sentiment.

The register is only intended for general health and safety consultants, as its intended to mainly help the SMEs choose one. You’ll have to go elsewhere if you need a specialist – but there are plenty of lists for that already.

Now, HSE are at pains to point out that the register is not compulsory and it won’t stop you from operating as a consultant if you’re not on it. Registration costs £60 (but 50% off for early birds), so that’s a good reason not to bother but of course there’s compulsory and there’s compulsory by the back door. With HSE directing people to the list, work could dry up for those not on the list – not immediately but in time.

I do feel somewhat concerned for those in that transition region. Those currently operating as consultants but working their way up the formal qualification and professional membership grade ladder could be on a sticky wicket (unless they’re specialists of course). They won’t be allowed to join the list, even though they may well be competent to advise on the low risk activities of many SMEs. There’s the paradox – many SMEs are low risk workplaces who won’t actually need anything complicated. That kind of advice doesn’t need a high level of qualification, just a lower level of qualification and quite a bit of experience. But that doesn’t get you very high up in the echelons of professional membership. So, I’m concerned about where these good people fit in – surely they shouldn’t have their careers ditched by the back door when they’re doing a perfectly good job? There must be other ways of establishing tehir competence?

Life’s just not fair. So tell me something I don’t know – the law of unforeseen consequences.