As a business owner with a workforce to take care of it is necessary for you to appoint someone competent to help you meet your required health and safety duties. You are probably used to managing most aspects of your business yourself, or with help from your staff. However, if health and safety is something you are not confident in, or you do not have a suitable candidate in-house, you may need some external help or advice.

Some businesses may be wary about bringing in an outside contractor, but hiring a health and safety consultant can save your company money, increase the employee productivity, and give you peace of mind that your business is adhering to all health and safety measures.

For many organisations the selection of an external health and safety professional is often the ideal choice. As a professional consultant, they’re fully dedicated to their role and will avoid getting bogged down by a company’s internal affairs, nor are they influenced by a company’s past safety record. These professional consultants, in general, are ahead of the curve for safety and training in their field of expertise.

Before choosing a consultant, it is important to define the scope of work, and constraints of the required role as thoroughly as possible. If you are vague as to what you expect from the consultant and what you specifically need, any areas of concern you may have may never be adequately addressed.

How do I identify the scope of work?

If you are unsure of what you need, health and safety consultants can work with you and provide assistance to determine what work needs to be done. This is known as a “scope of work” and is extremely important. The “scope of work” document describes how the expected outcomes (deliverables) will be achieved and in what timeframe. It is important that the deliverables are agreed upon by both the company and the consultant.

The scope of work should:

  • Outline the consultant’s duties and authority
  • Clarify any procedural expectations by the client (for example: how a consultant will access the worksite, read records, or conduct research with workers)
  • Outline how much work will be done in terms of the project
  • List any requirements for final reports
  • Outline steps to be taken to ensure confidentiality

There are many factors to consider when looking for and selecting an appropriately qualified and experienced consultant for health and safety issues:

  • Do they hold the necessary professional certifications?
    It is of utmost importance to confirm qualifications (licenses, degrees, certificates, etc.). In order to satisfy your legal obligations as an employer, you may be requested to demonstrate through records that a third party acting on your behalf in this capacity is adequately qualified or competent.
  • Can they demonstrate experience and knowledge through a project portfolio?
    Examine the key issues with questions such as; were deadlines met? Were there overruns on cost? Did she/he offer constructive recommendations? How well did he/she interact with the company’s staff? And anything you feel is relevant to interaction with your own workforce and management team.
  • Can they present references from past customers?
    Contact these previous clients and verifying the consultant’s competence, professionalism, and ability to deliver results and gain reassurance that you have selected the right service provider.
  • Do they hold the necessary insurances?
    Request copies of certification and verify these with the provider.

A professional health and safety consultant would never be offended by a request to provide this sort of information and will willingly provide the documentation to support their experience or credentials.

The effectiveness of your health and safety programme affects many aspects of your business, it can also have a significant impact on your organisations reputation if it is not managed and implemented effectively, so take the time and make the necessary investments to ensure that you do not have to look at damage limitation measures should things not go to plan. We are always happy to talk safety, so contact us if you are unsure how to take the next step in keeping your business safe.

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