Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Ketchup or mayo? Paper or plastic? Pool or beach? Life is full of these choices, and the answer is often: well, it depends. (How soft is this beach sand? How many kids are peeing in this pool right now?)
When it comes to managing safety risks on a construction site, a similar dichotomy presents itself. Some companies opt to have an in-house safety manager who is responsible for overseeing safety protocols and ensuring that employees are following all necessary procedures. This can be a good option for companies that have a large number of employees or that work on particularly complex projects, as it allows for close oversight of safety practices.
But for a lot of companies, the right call could be choosing a safety consultant over having an in-house safety department. The following list isn’t exhaustive, but here are some considerations that may make a company more likely to opt for a safety consultant:
- Expertise and Specialization: Safety consultants bring specialized knowledge and expertise in the field of safety management. They stay updated on the latest regulations, industry best practices, and emerging trends. Their focused experience and qualifications can provide valuable insights and recommendations to enhance safety practices. Construction projects can vary in complexity and risk profiles. If a company frequently works on specialized projects with unique safety considerations (e.g., hazardous materials, confined spaces, or high-risk activities), hiring a safety consultant with specific expertise in those areas for the duration of the relevant project can be advantageous.
- Company Size: Small to medium-sized companies may not have the resources or workload to justify hiring a full-time, dedicated safety manager. In such cases, hiring a safety consultant on an as-needed basis can be more cost-effective.
- Objective Perspective: External safety consultants offer an unbiased and objective perspective on safety issues within the organization. They can identify gaps, weaknesses, and potential blind spots that may be overlooked by an internal safety manager who is closely involved with day-to-day operations. An outside consultant can offer a fresh perspective on safety risks that in-house safety managers may not be able to see. This is particularly true if a company has been working on a project for an extended period of time, as it can be easy to become complacent and overlook potential hazards. Consultants can help identify these risks and offer solutions to mitigate them, ensuring that everyone on the job site remains safe and healthy.
- Flexibility and Scalability: Construction projects often have fluctuating safety needs, whether due to seasonality or project pipelines, etc. Hiring an external safety consultant provides flexibility to scale up or down the level of safety support as required. They can be engaged for specific projects or on a part-time basis, allowing construction companies to optimize costs and resources. This allows them to scale safety resources as needed without the long-term commitment of a full-time safety manager.
- Cost Savings: Employing a full-time in-house safety manager can be expensive, considering salary, benefits, training, and ongoing professional development. On the other hand, hiring an external safety consultant allows companies to access expert services when needed, reducing overall costs – especially if safety management needs are sporadic or project-specific.
- Access to a Network: Safety consultants often have an extensive network of contacts and resources within the safety industry. They can provide access to additional expertise, training programs, or industry-specific insights that an in-house safety manager may not have readily available.
- Fresh Ideas and Innovation: External safety consultants work with multiple organizations and industries, which exposes them to a variety of safety practices and innovations. They can introduce fresh ideas and innovative approaches to improve safety performance within the construction company.
- Time Efficiency: Managing safety programs and compliance can be time-consuming. By hiring an external safety consultant, internal staff can focus on their core responsibilities, while the consultant takes care of safety-related tasks, audits, and training, saving time and ensuring efficiency.
- Compliance and Legal Matters: Staying up to date with safety regulations and ensuring compliance can be a complex task. Safety consultants are well-versed in the legal requirements and regulations related to workplace safety. They can help construction companies navigate complex compliance issues, reduce the risk of penalties, and ensure adherence to safety standards. This can be especially valuable for companies that are working on projects in new or unfamiliar areas, as consultants can offer insights into local safety regulations and potential hazards.
- Adapting to Industry Changes: The construction industry is constantly evolving, with new safety regulations and technologies emerging. External safety consultants can stay up-to-date with these changes and help construction companies adapt and implement necessary safety measures effectively. Even beyond compliance regulations, consultants can also help companies stay up-to-date on the latest safety trends and best practices, ensuring that they are always operating at the highest level of safety possible.
- Short-term Projects or Transition Periods: During short-term projects or transitional phases, it may not be cost-effective or practical to hire a full-time safety manager. In such cases, external safety consultants can provide the required expertise and support for the specific duration or until an in-house safety manager is hired.
Just like there are a myriad of scenarios where only smooth peanut butter will do, there are many reasons why a construction company may choose to hire an outside safety consultant rather than relying solely on an in-house safety manager. From providing an unbiased analysis of safety risks to offering industry-specific expertise and fresh perspectives, consultants can be an invaluable asset in ensuring that construction sites remain safe and secure for everyone involved. The decision to hire a safety consultant versus an in-house safety manager depends on the specific needs, resources, and priorities of the construction company. It is important for each organization to assess its unique circumstances and determine the most appropriate approach to ensure effective safety management.
Corfix works with a range of amazing safety professionals, both in-house and external consultants, so if you have any questions about which might be best for you we’re happy to help. And whether you’re in-house or a consultant, we would love to partner with you. Check out our partner page or get in touch!