Safety and Health Consultant

From time to time, each of us is faced with problems or issues that surpass our own training, experience, or expertise. An educated person is one who recognizes that he/she needs help. There are always plenty of individuals ready and willing to provide advice and help. But, make sure that the consultant is competent help that can truly and meaningfully provide the assistance that is desperately needed. This is why when the company realizes that they do not have the knowledge to do what is required, it is good to be confident enough in themselves to understand that limitations exist. This is the appropriate time to find a consultant to be of help to the company. The company will want to make sure that they are getting their money's worth, which is only good fiscal sense.

Why a Need for a Consultant?

The consultant that is needed may be a specialist in a particular area of safety and health such as an ergonomist or an engineer who can help with redesigning issues. No matter the person you need, the company must proceed in an organized fashion in selecting that individual and finally obtaining a solution to the problem. Companies may use occupational safety and health (OSH) consultants for a number of reasons, which include the following:

  • • Identification of new safety or health problems that require technical, professional resources beyond what is available in the company
  • • A management initiative to redesign, streamline, and enhance current safety and health processes and programs
  • • A directive to outsource noncore company functions
  • • Regulatory-driven regulations requiring new and/or additional compliance measures
  • • Correcting deficiencies in the safety and health program

A consultant will likely draw on a wide and diverse experience base in helping to address problems and issues. He/she is not influenced by politics and allegiance and is therefore in a better position to make objective decisions. The professional consultant strives to provide cost-effective solutions since his/her repeat business is based upon performance and professional reputation. Also, consultants are temporary employees, and the usual personnel issues are not applicable to them. Consultants work at the times of the day, week, or month when the company has a need and not at their convenience. Most consultants have become qualified to perform these services for you through either education or experience.

In determining the need for a consultant, the company will want to consider whether using a consultant will be cost-effective, faster, or more productive. Companies may also

find the necessity for a consultant when they feel a need for outside advice, access to special instrumentation, an unbiased opinion or solution, or an assessment that supports the initial solution.

A consultant can address many of the company's safety and health issues. He/she can also act as an expert witness during legal actions. But primarily, the consultant is hired to solve a problem. Thus, the consultant must be able to identify and define the existing problem and then provide appropriate solutions to your problem. Consultants usually have a wide array of resources and professional contacts, which they can access in order to assist in solving the problem.

To get names and recommendations of potential consultants, contact professional organizations, colleagues, and insurance companies, who often employ loss-control or safety and health personnel. Furthermore, do not overlook local colleges and universities; many times, they also provide consultative services. In selecting a consultant, make sure to ask for the following:

  • 1. A complete resume, which provides you with the consultant's formal education, as well as his/her years of experience
  • 2. A listing of previous clients and permission to contact them
  • 3. The length of time the individual has been a consultant and his/her current status regarding existing business obligations
  • 4. Verification of professional training
  • 5. Documentation of qualifications, such as registered professional engineer, certified safety professional, or certified industrial hygienist
  • 6. A listing of the consultant's memberships in professional associations
  • 7. Any areas of specialization and ownership or access to equipment and certified testing laboratories
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