The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the course of workplace safety for organizations in a multitude of ways. Even though many companies are launching return to work plans, many Canadians are afraid to return to the workplace, and six in 10 say they will refuse to go back if they feel it’s not safe enough. However, 82% of these workers still do trust their employers to keep them safe.
Despite the confidence that employees have in their companies, safety itself has also changed due to the pandemic. Compliance with new safety guidelines is necessary, and new things like pandemic planning or contingency plans, remote work, ergonomics and mental health are emerging as crucial safety concerns for many organizations.
The increasing complexity of health and safety alongside other business challenges is stretching employees in some organizations to capacity, and a growing number of employers are turning to safety consulting to fill the gaps. Safety consulting companies are experiencing a renewed interest in their services, with some reporting a ten-fold increase in demand for their services.
First — what does a Safety Consultant Do?
Safety consultants are professionals who will assess your workplace and make recommendations for eliminating workplace safety hazards. They can also help your business meet the complex standards and compliance requirements of various provincial, state and federal agencies. Some can even help you deal with compliance citations and other regulatory issues. In addition, safety consultants will:
- Provide health and safety training to management and staff
- Perform risk assessments
- Execute safety audits
- Build safety and compliance manuals and processes
- Foster a strong safety culture
- Help companies navigate investigations or government audits
Whether or not you need to hire a safety consultant depends on multiple factors unique to your specific organization, but here are a few of the benefits that safety consulting can provide for your company.
1. They’re Experts in What They Do
Liability issues alongside growing worker's compensation costs mean that keeping your workers and the public safe is an increasingly critical responsibility for any company. Since their business is safety, safety consultants have the knowledge and expertise to provide necessary recommendations and they will know all the compliance standards specific to your business. It is their job to stay on top of the latest trends and innovations for PPE and technologies, for example, something that your existing staff may not have the interest in or time for in addition to their regular job duties. Safety consultants also stay abreast of new regulations that may directly affect your company and can help you prepare in advance to meet these regulations.
More importantly, safety consultants understand regulations and can break them down for your supervisory staff while ensuring your company remains compliant. When you hire a safety consultant, you get an individual or a team of people who work solely in safety. They have the training and knowledge to accurately assess your current safety situation and make suggestions for improvement. They will have an educational background that is safety-related, but will also stay on top of recent trends through ongoing education. They can be accredited in Canada by organizations including the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering and in the U.S. by organizations such as the Board of Certified Safety Professionals.
2. They Can Leverage Experience
Safety consultants also have access to the kind of valuable knowledge that can only come with experience. This expertise is often specific to your industry, but will also be informed by the consultant’s varied experiences in other sectors. This is the kind of extensive capability that they can apply to solve your safety issues. In other words, they’ll come equipped with an awareness of both what can happen and what should happen. They will have seen what works and, more importantly, what doesn’t. This experience goes far beyond staying up-to-date on the latest trends in the safety world — it makes them an invaluable resource for your organization.
3. They Save You Time and Money
As they are laser-focused on safety and know the latest innovations, safety consultants can reduce your overhead costs in several different ways. After all, it is always more costly to fix something after it becomes a problem than to take a preventative approach. They will save you money, for example, by helping you catch and fix critical safety gaps more quickly and long before they become severe problems.
A safety consultant or company can also allow you to save money by buying the services you need, when you need them. You can purchase services either on an ad hoc or contract basis. Since they are not employees, you will also save employee-related costs from wages to benefits to employee taxes.
4. You Gain an Impartial Third Party
Safety consultants do not come to the workplace with an agenda. Their sole focus is on safety and how they can best help to keep your workers safe. Internal safety teams are still employees and will be influenced by events and expectations from within the company. However, a safety consultant is not affected by office politics or by these internal events. Their motivation is strictly ensuring compliance, avoiding fines and protecting workers.
With safety consultants, companies can be more agile and work toward the future and preventing possible safety issues rather than continually responding to existing problems and putting out fires. This kind of forward-thinking and the advanced safety planning skills that come from experience can also save your company money.
Since they’re impartial, safety consultants can also serve as a buffer between management and workers in soliciting feedback or implementing change. Both can be made a little more palatable when filtered through a third party like a safety consultant.
Something To Consider For Your Workplace
These are just a few of the benefits of hiring a safety consultant. Safety consultants allow the companies they work for to adopt a more agile approach to health and safety that keeps workers safe, protects the company, and ensures compliance.