I can’t count the number of businesses I’ve visited who have been given a ‘system’ to use by their consultants.
But I do know it’s the the exact same number who haven’t a clue as to how to use the system they’ve been given. This is obviously not their fault, but comes as a result of unrealistic expectations by them and their consultant.
One prospective Client even showed me a system that they had ‘procured’ from another company (still with the other company’s logo on it).
Just to make it clear, there is no advantage of having a folder full of blank forms – this won’t get any points in court if a claim or prosecution is taken against the company.
So, what should happen instead?
Whilst it could be considered as admirable that a consultant gives the client everything at once, experience should tell them that this isn’t going to work.
Clients are generally very busy trying to run their own complicated businesses, they don’t have the time or inclination to re-interpret what is needed amongst a myriad of system forms.
Instead, the consultant should operate their own ‘just in time’ system by feeding the client the right information at the right time – along with appropriate amount of support.
This approach is only possible if some kind of prioritisation exercise has been carried out first.
Many of us call this a’ General Risk Assessment’. With this in your back pocket, all of the efforts to reduce risk should be focussed on your highest risks – and the consultant should provide the systems, forms etc for those items alone.
When you take your car to a garage, they don’t give you a folder with every possible fault that our car could develop – akin to giving you an old ‘Haynes Maintenance Manual’ they give you a succinct list of what needs doing and how they intend to help you. It should be the same with health and safety.
- Health and safety consultants can help you analyse your company’s compliance, and then prioritise what needs doing first.
- Often they will also be able to help you carry out risk assessments, but you must keep hold of the reins!
- Ask a prospective consultancy how they intend to prioritise their recommendations so that you can plan any remedial work in stages.
- Don’t allow their recommendations to stay buried in your files – this may come back and haunt you later on if an accident happens relating to that activity. When they provide you with documents – read them as there are likely to be actions that are required of you; ask questions if anything isn’t clear.
- Request that your chosen consultant presents their findings to you as the work progresses, along with their suggestions on how to proceed.
- Look for efficient ways to manage tasks between you and your consultant. This can be in paper format, but try some of the latest software solutions which can allow clearer prioritisation, note taking and communications.
Remember, it’s not about having a system – it’s about using a system to manage health and safety.