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How do you select a health and safety advisor?

Now published in The Event Industry magazine, 30th November 2012, 

Selecting the right advisor; This is a real dilemma for anyone who needs to hire in expert support. If you are not an expert, if you don’t have the knowledge, then how do you select the right person?

This is very much like any common sense problem. If you don’t ask the right questions, you won’t get the right answer.

Please, please, do not go on cost alone. We have all heard the expression, if it seems to good to be true, then it probably is.

It is likely that we have all made this mistake in some way in the past. Sometimes we get away with it but often and very bitterly, we also often regret it. Whether it is the choice of our car, choice of accountant, restaurant or any service or goods. Afterwards we feel stupid, bitter, cheated and resentful, even though we did not pay much. We trusted the fact that anyone offering a service must be able to deliver it at a suitable level. Often we are left with a bigger problem than we started with.

With health and safety, you might be lucky and not encounter any problems. Nobody gets hurt and you don’t come to the attention of enforcement people. On the other hand, someone might get hurt, you might get sued, you might be prosecuted and you might seriously damage your company reputation. In this business we may be talking in terms of the cost of life or livelihood.

However, if you can get a bargain, and that means a great service for a suitable fee, then go for it.

So what questions should you ask? Try asking these questions to your prospective advisor:-

*     Are you a member of an accreditation scheme such as IOSH, NEBOSH, CIEH (and others)? These are all UK organisations, so if you are in another country, you will probably have your own national equivalent. To be a health and safety advisor, as with many professions, some people have no, or little competence. To be an accredited health and safety practitioner, recognised by one of our (UK) national accrediting organisations, you must have certain minimum levels of qualification, you must have been in practise for a specified minimum period and you must be engaged in a programme of monitored continual professional development. In short, you are scrutinised.

*     What qualifications do you have, and are they relevant? When did you qualify and what do you do to keep your knowledge up to date? A good advisor should be continually researching, keeping their knowledge up to date and their skills sharp. An organisation such as NEBOSH, IOSH or CIEH or your trade body will advise you (the client) what minimum levels of qualification are needed for the type of service you need. Any practitioner who is also an accredited trainer, delivering recognised qualifications is also likely to provide a great level of service.

*     Are you a member of a trade body? To be a member of a recognised trade body, once again, on must demonstrate competence in that field – knowledge and experience.

*     Can you produce relevant insurances? In this case, we would expect to see professional indemnity insurance, public liability insurance, employee insurance (for limited companies), and legal insurance. Where work involves foreign travel, relevant travel insurances (not just the usual holiday cover).

*     In the case of registered companies, have a look at Companies House (UK suppliers) to ensure that they fulfilling their legal requirements. A free search can reveal basic essential information.

*     Can you provide examples of your previous services, where, when  and who for? How open are they with their work history? Do they make general claims or do they openly make it known what they have done, where and for who? By this, you have information you can check and you can relate to what skills might be needed?

 

Do you need advice or service?  If you have any questions, please contact us and we will try to help.