The role of the safety consultant in the workplace

Table of Contents

The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act requires that all companies, businesses, organizations and departments look after the health and safety of all their employees within the workplace, including management to lower level employees. The responsibility of OHS lies with all employees, not just management or the Chief Executive Officer, but all employees within the workplace. 

The challenge is that there are legislation acts at work, which are often difficult to interpret and implement, unless the business employs a full time Health and Safety Officer , or contracts with a safety consultant company or representative. This article will “shed some light” on the reasons, benefits, what to look out for, positives and negatives of a safety consultant in the workplace.

Why does a company need a Safety Consultant      

As mentioned above, it is very challenging for a company to understand and implement the OHS Act compliance requirements and legislation acts at work, without having the necessary theoretical knowledge and practical exposure / experience in the Health and Safety sector and environment. There are different legislation acts at work to consider when ensuring OHS related compliance at work, such as:

  • OHS Act 85 of 1993;
  • Municipal Emergency Services By -Laws;
  • South African National Standards & Building Regulations. 

It would take a long time for someone internally within a business or organization to up-skill their OHS knowledge to fulfill the role of a safety consultant if it is not their core responsibility. There are new protocols, government gazette amendments to the OHS Act, first aid protocols and system implementation, which companies need to be aware of. Without a safety consultant specialist, it would be difficult to keep abreast of all these new developments and amendments. The decision a company needs to make would be, is the safety consultant permanently employed by the organization or is it better that the company’s legislation acts at work and compliance requirements are outsourced to an external safety consultant company. 

The negatives and positives of a permanently employed vs outsourced Safety Consultant

Human resource departments would need to motivate and confirm to management that they have sourced the most appropriate candidate that would meet the OHS position’s requirements. This safety consultant employee would need to be confident and efficient in implementing successful OHS act legislation acts at work, as it is often a challenging task as many managers and staff are unaware of the OHS legislation requirements, their importance and don’t really care. This is also a risky appointment to make, as there are not that many capable and confident OHS specialist available in the marketplace.

However should the company be able to source an acceptable and capable safety consultant candidate, or Health and Safety Officer, then the permanent appointment could be more cost effective than using a part time outsourced safety consultant or company. The decision here is a possible cost saving risky permanent appointment, versus a guaranteed OHS specialized, cost against company time requirements and not permanent. Either way the company must realize that budgeting for legislation acts at work is a definite requirement and important, as it will ultimately assist in creating a health safe and prepared working environment for all employees and ensure OHS Act and other legislation compliance.                 

What are the objectives that a safety consultant should achieve

The successful implementation and management of an OHS system is often quite challenging and requires a team, which is prepared to mold and develop the OHS structure and system to suit their environment, structural layout and work needs simultaneously, over time in order to succeed. Absolute Health Services specializes in implementing successful OHS systems, tailored to fit the company’s structure and needs. AHS has a unique service offering, which includes placing a safety consultant at the client’s premises to assist with OHS management, training and equipment supply services. Some of the critical OHS objectives the safety consultant must achieve would be: 

  •  Assist in establishing the OHS structure, organogram and new appointment letters, thereby ensuring that all the organization offices have representation from the correct OHS disciplines (OHS Supervisors and Representatives, First Aiders, Fire Warden and Evacuation Marshals);
  • Develop the OHS Policy, Evacuation Policy and Emergency Medical Policy and assist with communicating appropriate legislation acts at work sections and content to the company’s employees, ensuring that OHS and EP is communicated appropriately and effectively;  
  • Assist in establishing an active OHS Committee which drives and develops OHS. Attendance at the OHS committee meetings, which are held at least every 3 months with the safety consultant assisting the OHS chairperson with direction, advice on producing the appropriate correspondence, meeting agenda & meeting minute outcomes;
  • Assist with the preparation and evaluation of the emergency evacuation drills, once all training and equipment supply has been completed. This will be a managed process to try and achieve the desired outcome and objective;

 Strategic advice and assistance in continuously developing the most suitable OHS management and structural system meeting the legislation acts at work requirements for the organization. 

Long term Management support or failure of the safety consultants OHS implementation

Alastair Farish the director from Absolute Health Services says – “The organizations executive and senior management team must be committed to creating a healthy, safe and prepared working environment for all staff, visiting clients and contractors which are an integral part of any organization. This is achieved by establishing, maintaining and continually reviewing their OHS system and structure to ensure alignment with national and internationally accepted standards and the organization’s strategic objectives. 

The organization’s OHS Policy must apply to all company or department operations, facilities, employees, partners, contractors and temporary staff employed by the organization and everyone shall adhere to OHS related policy. Any non-compliance to OHS policy must be subjected to disciplinary action. 

The OHS policy must be published on an internal communication platform and be communicated to all employees and relevant external parties. The OHS policy must also be reviewed and maintained on an annual basis or if significant organizational changes occur in order to ensure its continuing suitability, adequacy and effectiveness”. 

Contact Absolute Health Services to arrange for a safety consultant to meet with you and your company HR and Operations representatives, in order to discuss and agree on the most suitable OHS solution to ensure compliance with all the legislation acts at work

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