The health and safety of employees should be the top priority for employers. Even if you’re running a traditional style office, with few health and safety risks, there are still a number of regulatory responsibilities on employers.
If you’re thinking about whether you need to hire a health and safety officer, then there are many reasons that this could be a great idea for your business.
Health and safety is their priority
Health and safety responsibility is often something that’s given to someone as an additional role alongside their main one. This is inadvisable for a number of reasons. Firstly, it takes that person away from their core job role, which is the role you hired them for. Their attention will be divided. Secondly, health and safety is a highly regulated area, that requires them to be well trained and up to date on the latest best practice and legal areas. If they aren’t then there could be dangerous gaps in their knowledge which could lead to safety issues in your organisation and legal troubles too.
If you have a business that has a lot more health and safety regulations to consider, such as the need to work safely at heights or on customer sites.
Benefits of in-house health and safety officers
Hiring a full-time or part-time dedicated health and safety officer means that they know the business intimately. Not only will they be able to get to know your processes inside and out, but they can also implement and oversee change at a speed that works best for your organisation.
It can often be difficult to get buy-in from all employees if new policies and behaviours are introduced, which is what good health and safety officers will work to get the support of all internal stakeholders and work collaboratively. Sometimes this approach works better than introducing an outside agency periodically, which make huge changes and then disappear again.
Benefits of using an external consultant
Another option is to use a specialist health and safety consultant. This can be with a dedicated consultancy or a freelancer. There are a number of advantages to doing it this way. Though the day rates are quite high, you do not have to recruit another member of staff with all of the financial and legal responsibilities that this entails. You also don’t have to pay to put them through any expensive training courses or accreditation either. It is their responsibility to gain relevant knowledge and qualifications.
They’re also unaffected by office politics and can be unbiased in their approach.
In house versus consultancy
Depending on the size and nature of your business and your budget, then both options can make sense to you. If your business is relatively new, then a consultancy can help you establish your policies and training while controlling costs. An in-house resource means that you always have a dedicated health and safety resource. They can design and implement change at the right time, at a pace that suits your organisation, conducting ongoing training and assessment.
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