When do you need to hire a consultant?
It doesn’t matter whether your business is large or small, family run or corporate owned, you know you need to comply with legislation and industry regulations. This doesn’t just apply to health and safety, but to every aspect of your business including finances (think tax, budget preparations or payroll), HR, operations, succession planning, enterprise analysis, audits and reporting, purchase recommendations, benchmarking and more.
This article will focus on consultants when it comes to health and safety… since that is our speciality. Keep in mind, the messaging behind utilizing consultants throughout your business, wherever you may feel there is a skillset gap, remains the same.
Importance of Agriculture Consultants in the industry
Statistics tell us that in most countries agriculture is one of, if not the most dangerous industry to work in. It got us thinking – why is this the case when you look at industries like major construction and mining, who seem to be doing better when it comes to health and safety yet doing comparatively hazardous work. Is it the differences in the work that results in such differences in fatalities and incidents? We don’t think so.
This is where our discussion starts, every business is different and not every business needs a full-time employee to manage their health and safety. Construction and mining do, in fact they generally have teams of people focusing just on health and safety. So how can a small family business possibly compare? This is where a health and safety consultant would be beneficial. Health and safety need to be a priority, whether you believe there are risks or not.
A consultant’s role is to provide insights into your business. They will generally follow the below process:
- Assess the situation
- Provide guidance based on their experience and education
- Collect and analysis data
- Inform and prepare a plan
When will you need a health and safety consultant?
Our advice is that you shouldn’t wait until you have an accident or injury, fail an audit, or have an inspection to find your perfect consultant. Their role is to help your farm business meet complex standards and compliance requirements, some can even assist you with improvement and prohibition notices and other regulatory issues.
Experts and experience
Consultants have a working knowledge and an understanding of legislation and regulations, not only making them a great resource for your management team, but they can also help you do everything you can to gain compliance. Agricultural consultants generally keep up to date with current trends through on-going education. Being experts, they can provide recommendations specific to your business, providing direction and helping you prepare for any upcoming changes.
Most consultants come with knowledge you can only gain with years of experience in the industry addressing safety-related problems. They have seen what has worked for other businesses and more importantly what has not.
Save your business time and money
Consultants can save you more than just time and money. They provide a service that allows you to identify safety issues before they become a problem. You’ve heard the saying “prevention is always better than the cure”, think of the medical costs associated with safety hazards, injuries, and business operation down time during an investigation. The snowball affect is that as you improve your health and safety within the workplace, you might see a reduction to your health insurance premiums each year!
It sounds a little odd but hiring a safety consultant is an investment for your agribusiness, they add value through creating solutions. They can quickly understand and address issues, reducing the time other employees would spend researching and identifying answers.
Drive cultural change
Since consultants aren’t restricted or influenced by internal politics, they can act independently, providing a fresh and new perspective for both workers and management. They aren’t restricted by other job roles and can implement improvements quickly. Their sole purpose is to provide you with impartial recommendations, in turn making your business proactive rather than reactive.
As consultants are often seen as “outsiders”, external to your workforce, they can act as an influence, becoming both a facilitator and an advocate for your workers and management team. Would you be more likely to provide honest feedback to an unbiased/neutral individual as well as listen to a third party provide advice?
Contract as needed
Hiring a consultant allows you to purchase the services you require. As some agribusinesses may not be able to afford a full-time, in-house employee, you can choose to create a contract with select consultants. Some consultants even allow you to purchase support blocks based on hours.
Our final word on this topic. When making the decision to hire a consultant or a full-time staff member there are a few questions to consider.
- How quickly you need the help
- How much your budget will allow for
Finding and hiring a health and safety consultant may be easier than you think. Most farm business consultants will be able to provide a range of services not just addressing compliance issues, but supplying training as well as creating processes, policies and procedures making them a valuable asset for your agribusiness.
Topics: Find a Consultant
Disclaimer: Content on this website may be of relevance to users outside of Australia, but content links and examples are specific to Australia. Please check with your local authority for your country and industry requirements.
Originally published 16 November, 2021.