Working as a Safety Consultant
Safety consultants are usually professionals brought in from outside a company to provide advice and expertise about safety matters. According to the website Occupational Health & Safety, outside consultants can provide a valuable service even for companies that have in-house safety directors.
“[An in-house employee] does not have the time, and your budget constraints do not allow him or her the resources, to keep up with the ever-changing environment in which we live and work,” the site explains. “Therefore, in most cases, it is very cost effective to hire a safety consultant to take a fresh look at your company policies, training, accident prevention programs, and a multitude of other issues that may be particular to your type of industry and company.”
A company might have many different reasons for engaging a safety consultant. Risk Management Partners, Inc. lists three primary benefits provided by safety consultants:
- Ensuring federal, state, and local safety regulation compliance
- Ensuring employee safety
- Managing risk and reducing liability
The employer enjoys the additional benefits of freedom and flexibility. A consultant is generally hired for a specific reason, task, or period. When the need has been met, the consultant is released and moves on to the next client.
Like all consulting, the field of safety consulting is highly variable. Consultants hop from one assignment to another—some short-term, some longer, depending on the particular need of the company in question. The issues and challenges of each assignment are unique. A person working as a safety consultant must therefore be able to evaluate data and have excellent problem-solving abilities. He or she must also have good communication skills to present and discuss these findings.
Along with these general skills, safety consultants and those seeking to enter other occupational health and safety careers must be highly knowledgeable in industry-specific areas. Much of the background they need can be obtained in programs such as Eastern Kentucky University’s online Master of Science in Safety, Security and Emergency Management. Providing concentrations in occupational safety, corporate security, and emergency/disaster management, EKU’s program can position graduates for success in the field of safety consulting.
What Safety Consultants Do
The specific tasks performed by a safety consultant will vary depending on the particulars of an assignment and the industry. However, the website Career Trend explains that a safety consultant’s overarching role falls into several general areas:
- Evaluating Programs: When entering a new assignment, a safety consultant’s first duty is often to evaluate an organization’s existing safety-related policies and programs. The consultant must understand current practices before he or she can suggest improvements.
- Identifying Problems in Workstations, Offices and Other Spaces: The second step is often observation. A safety consultant spends time in an organization’s workspaces to see how safety practices are carried out and to identify any shortcomings. The safety consultant may also test machinery personally, if he or she has the knowledge, or supervise contractors in doing this work.
- Investigating Incidents or Accidents: In some cases, safety consultants are engaged as the result of on-site incidents or accidents. They investigate the circumstances leading to the incident, as well as the response and post-incident follow-up.
- Writing Safety Manuals and Policies: Once a safety consultant has a full understanding of an organization’s safety needs, he or she may be tasked with writing safety manuals and response plans for ongoing use. Good writing skills and an understanding of risk management are required for this task.
- Providing Trainings: Safety consultants are often called upon to deliver mandated safety trainings or certifications to an organization’s employees. The consultant must ensure that the trainings meet all federal, state, local, and/or industry requirements.
One of the safety consultant’s most important responsibilities occurs between assignments. Career Trend explains that safety consultants must stay abreast of new safety regulations, as well as watch related court decisions. “Not doing so would make them ineffective in offering appropriate advice and recommendations,” the site points out. Networking with safety agencies, attending seminars, keeping an active membership in industry organizations, and staying up-to-date in other relevant ways are essential parts of a safety consultant’s success.
Salary and Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), candidates for all occupational health and safety careers typically need a bachelor’s degree in occupational health and safety or in a related scientific or technical field, but advanced education such as an online emergency management degree can increase a candidate’s desirability. The field as a whole is expected to experience an 8 percent growth in jobs between 2016 and 2026.
According to Payscale.com, the median salary for safety consultants as of April 2019 was $61,494, with an overall range of $42,820 to $103,730. Factors contributing to individual pay rates include education, certifications, additional skills or areas of specialization, and years of experience.
Eastern Kentucky University’s Master of Science in Safety, Security and Emergency Management
Eastern Kentucky University’s online master’s degree in safety, security and emergency management program is designed to show students how to identify safety risks and potential areas of improvement in the areas of occupational safety, corporate security, and emergency/disaster management. This degree can be a stepping stone to a position as a safety consultant or many other occupational health and safety careers.
Industry-experienced safety professionals guide students through occupational safety courses, covering modern trends in employee engagement and the establishment of a safety culture in the workplace. For more information, contact EKU today.
Benefits of an outside consultant – Occupational Health & Safety
Reasons to hire a safety consultant – Risk Management Partners, Inc.
General skills – PayScale.com
Safety consultant responsibilities – Career Trend
Staying knowledgeable – Career Trend
Degree requirements and job growth outlook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Safety consultant pay scales – PayScale.com