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Best practices in Health and Safety – Newsletter series

Do You Need A Health & Safety Consultant or Enforcer?

At Ligtas our health and safety consultants pride themselves on not being box tickers - they care about your health and safety and ensure that we deliver what you need when you need it. A consultant will support with how:

  • To be fully compliant
  • To know that people are really safe
  • To minimise the financial exposure of the business
  • To protect your reputation concerning health and safety
  • To tap into knowledge and expertise that you don’t have or need bringing up to date

By utilising the support of a consultant, you can gain access to very specific skills and get an outsiders perspective of what needs to be done. Of course, one would hope that the relationship that you build with your consultant means that they become a trusted and integral part of your team.

Before we dive deeper into this article, let’s explore what we mean by a consultant.

Consultant meaning

A consultant is a professional who provides expert advice in a particular area such as law, regulatory compliance, health care, health and safety, IT, etc.

In the field of health and safety, one could be forgiven for thinking that while you may hire a consultant, there is a perception that what you will get is an enforcer.

This is an easily made mistake as the perception of the consultant’s role is often confused by the client presuming that audit, inspection, and consultation are to purely highlight failure, not to encourage good practice, support and advice.

Enforcer meaning

An enforcer is someone who ‘makes’ people obey a law or rule or makes a particular situation happen or be accepted.

Under UK law, you have an obligation of ensuring the health, safety and welfare of employees and others at work. Knowing this will not make you an enforcer, more that you will ensure that you meet your legal requirements.

Different sides of the same coin

These two occupations may be very different, but they both intend to produce the same results; safe, healthy, compliant premises for occupants and visitors, albeit by very different approaches.

Let’s hear from Caroline Greenwood

The health and safety consultants role

As a Ligtas consultant, I am not there to ‘make’ anyone obey, ‘make’ a situation happen, ‘make’ the client accept responsibility. Instead, I am there to guide, support, educate, encourage, and equip the client to take responsibility as the competent person and become the lead in educating those who assist them.

I take pride in the knowledge that I have gained through experience and qualification. This knowledge has grown over time with each new experience and client I have encountered. The questions posed may seem similar but when you add in the client’s circumstances, it isn’t a one size fits all, nor is it a tick in the box exercise.

This means that we can take our extensive experience and help clients meet their legal obligation through our guidance and structured encouragement. We are there to support, not enforce, and ensure that a consultant visit is positive, not one that may cause concern or may anyone feel like they do not know what they are doing.

There have been visits where I could sense my presence was feared. But thankfully, once the client relaxed, I discovered why. Reasons the visit was dreaded included misconception, the uncertainty of expectations, or an uncomfortable history with a previous consultant.

The role of a consultant is to make sure the client feels comfortable about what will happen on the visit and what is expected of them. Then, after the visit, it is to ensure that a detailed report is delivered within a reasonable timeframe. At Ligtas, this is 10 days.

Once again, this is not just a box-ticking exercise. Ligtas care about health and safety and ensure that you fully understand the next steps in the process.

One of my greatest pleasures in this role is when I have left site knowing that I have put the client’s mind to rest, that they are motivated and want to get involved with Health and Safety matters to ensure a safe workplace for all who visit and to be proud of their own achievements and successes.

Finally, a health and safety consultant’s visit should never be feared. If anything, we provide the help, guidance, support and expert knowledge to keep the enforcer from your door.

Caroline - Ligtas consultant

What if you want an enforcer?

As previously stated, the consultant’s role is to not make anyone do anything. But on occasion, a client will request that we hold them accountable, once we have consulted. When this happens, our goal is to keep things positive while ensuring a win-win. Everything remains collaborative because, in this way, we follow a consistent approach where our words are backed by action.

Organisations know their own culture, and in this scenario, it is really about accountability, rather than forcing them to meet their legal obligations.

The general view is that enforcement is old fashioned and that a more collaborative approach is more effective and produces better results.

We also want to make sure that simply meeting their obligations is not treated as a tick in the box exercise because The Ligtas Way is about helping our clients to remain actively safe and not about catching people out.

Your role

What about your role?

Your role is to be open and honest with us. Yes, share the skeletons in the closet and anything else that will help us to support you. We need you to be available for a full discussion so that we both know what is expected and what the success of this visit and the subsequent report looks like for you.

As we’ve said, consultants are specialists who want to be given challenges. If you can share the challenges you face with us, we can explore the causes and find the best solutions. Win-win.

The right consultant will bring immense value to your business, provided they are seen as a friend and not foe and fully utilised on the visit and after.

Our ethos at Ligtas is:

You can’t keep people safe by simply ticking a box

This means that our consultants will take the time and care to ensure that you get the best in health and safety consultancy.

Our clients matter to us. Our role is to ensure that you know that your legal, ethical, and financial obligations are met. That you are compliant and all risks have been assessed and proactively mitigated.

Where do you want to go today?