How to Choose a Safety Consultant

One of the most important decisions a Health and Safety professional (client) will do is select a safety consultant.  On the surface it seems easy.  Complete a quick internet search for firms which provide safety support in your geographic area.  Browse their website to get a feel for the company and perhaps contact them via message or phone.  Once contacted, a general conversation about the specifics of what prompted the call in the first place transpires between the client and the consultant.

This is often done in a “rushed” manner after the client has been served with Orders from the Ministry of Labour or after a major safety concern/incident has transpired.

In our opinion, establishing a solid foundation with your safety consultant should start by asking the following questions:

  • Is the consultant easy to communicate with (i.e. verbal and written)?
  • Is the consultant eager to help reduce client stress by providing guidance?
  • Does the consultant respond to your questions or site visit requests in a timely manner that suits your needs?
  • Is the consultant’s knowledge based on education, experience and training?  Ask for examples of their work and or referrals.
  • Does the consultant “walk the talk”?  Do they come to your site fully equipped or do they ask for safety equipment that they have forgotten to bring?
  • Does the consultant listen to your concerns regarding operational requirements?
  • Is the consultant collaborative and inclusive of your employees’ concerns?

If the answer is No to any of the above questions, raise a warning flag and perhaps reach out to another firm.

In the end, a solid relationship with your safety consultant will help to reduce safety risk in the workplace.  This relationship should begin before you are in a compromised position when you have time to ask the questions listed above and make an informed decision.

How to Begin the PSR Process

We are often asked: “How is a Pre-Start Health and Safety Review (PSR) begun?”  We can refer our clients to Section 7 of Ontario Regulation 851, but often we are asked whether it applies to their situation or not.

As can be seen within Section 7, there are several circumstances in industrial settings which “trigger” a PSR to be performed.  Once a PSR is triggered, a Professional Engineer licenced by the Association of Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), is authorized to conduct the PSR and begin the process.

The engineer should begin by visiting the site and reviewing the equipment or process for which the PSR is being conducted.  This would include; the equipment, its controls, its location within the building and the manner in which it operates.  He or she should then enumerate the Hazards which are present, both evident and predicted.  The hazards, once enumerated, enable the engineer to develop a plan of measures which when instituted, eliminate the risks associated with the hazards.

The plan should be extensively reviewed with the client to ensure constructability, operability and maintainability are considered.  This process is often iterative and may take several attempts to “tweak” it until it satisfies the client’s concerns.

All of this information should be included in the formal PSR report.  Once the report is transmitted to the client, the PSR process is complete.
Often, we are asked to return to site during or after implementation of the measures to ensure the requirements of the regulation are being met.  This in our opinion is a worthwhile step, although not strictly required by the regulation.