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A New Model for Safety Consulting that Delivers Long-Term ROI

Though safety consulting, safety staffing and safety management outsourcing are standard practices, Total Safety Management evolves safety consulting to make EHS/OHS simpler, more effective, and more cost-beneficial. Outsourcing in some form dates back to at least the Industrial Revolution. Generally, a business turns to outsourcing when:

  • It is more efficient to source externally
  • It needs to maintain a focus on its core competency
  • It seeks cost-structure improvement

The modern concept of outsourcing blossomed in the 1980s. Over subsequent decades, businesses used outsourcing in different ways, ranging from a more traditional approach of moving non-core operations to an external supplier to a transformational approach that alters how a company operates.

In the ‘90s, a “strategic outsourcing” concept emerged where simple cost optimization was intertwined with the goal of gaining competitive advantage through external resources. This idea evolved further in the new millennium, when outside vendors became recognized as potential agents of transformation. In other words, outsourced providers didn’t just reduce costs or add efficiencies but became consultants that delivered innovation and operational agility that reformed business processes and models.

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Under this modern construct, it has become commonplace for companies to outsource key, but not core, functions such as accounting, HR, marketing, and legal. For businesses in construction, manufacturing, energy generation, and heavy industries, safety is a function that, if approached with a strategic outsourcing mindset, can deliver the same kind of efficiencies and gains as those aforementioned functions. It’s time for businesses to recognize the benefits of completely outsourcing safety services through a consultant that can deliver long-term positive ROI.

Worksites Face Increasing Challenges to Stay Safe and Compliant

Businesses in heavy industries and construction will always face understandable scrutiny over working conditions. The safety and security of employees has become a fundamental expectation in this country, and rightfully so. That said, a combination of reality and market forces present ongoing challenges for companies to maintain the safest workplaces possible. Some of these challenges include:

In some respects, companies have long managed these market forces through contracting and staffing – arguably a form of outsourcing. But the contracting approach fails to deliver all the benefits of a comprehensive outsourcing strategy and, in some cases, creates its own challenges and issues.

Where Safety Consulting Improves on Traditional Staffing Methods

In addition to using a mix of temporary or part-time employees, companies have traditionally addressed their safety and staffing challenges by contracting or utilizing staffing firms to provide subcontractors. While this may result in getting personnel into place, this approach has apparent deficiencies and doesn’t deliver the full benefits of a total safety management consultant.

Administrative nightmares

Especially in large businesses where staffing needs can be in the dozens to hundreds, juggling and administering all the contracts creates a burden that extends from your safety team to your HR department. 

Questionable qualifications

Temporary staffing companies, especially those working in high-demand and talent-depleted specialties like safety, may not require the highest level of expertise and qualifications. Furthermore, in many cases, these firms may look for general experience and not necessarily niche skills that apply to the different and particular aspects that appropriate safety preparedness demands. At the end of the day, you might end up with unqualified people in critical positions.

Reactive vs. proactive

Contracting and staffing leave a company in reactionary mode, forcing you to react when a need arises — a process that could take more time than you have to address critical situations adequately. Reactionary staffing can delay timelines and create an overall culture of slow progress.

Burdens of liability

When employing a contractor, you accept the liability for that worker. A staffing firm might maintain the permanent employment status of an employee, but to what degree does the agency accept liability for that employee’s actions? These gray areas can create questions around liability in the event something happens involving that employee.

Lack of history and institutional knowledge

When temporary employees leave following a project or contract, that person is no longer available to answer questions or share institutional knowledge. The result can be significant information gaps throughout the company, which opens the door to dangerous situations down the line.

How Safety Consulting Has Evolved to Deliver Strategic Value

Flexibility, agility, and adaptability have become cornerstones of successful organizations. The evolution of outsourcing to include consulting has helped companies focus on their core competencies and let experts at other aspects of the business bring efficiencies and strategic value. As mentioned, this is reflected in the modern models of retainer-based functions like accounting, HR, marketing, and more.

This same retainer-based concept, when applied to safety services, can provide the strategic value missing from traditional methods of staffing and contracting. By bringing in a safety consultant with a complete focus on taking over the management and execution of safety services, companies turn safety from a cost center into a fundamental tenant of organizational culture that ultimately delivers a positive return on investment. Outsourcing total safety management offers:

Reduced and shared liability

Completely outsourcing the safety function transfers liability onto the safety organization, alleviating some of the legal burdens that come with safety compliance and incidents.

Decreased costs for hiring and training

In addition to eliminating the need for highly paid, full-time staff, reducing the burdens of finding, hiring, and training temp or contract employees also eliminates the costs associated with these time-consuming tasks. 

Simpler contracts and partnership agreements

Outsourcing total safety management leaves just one partnership to manage instead of juggling multiple contracts and agreements.

A unified approach to safety

With a comprehensive approach to safety that includes planning, design, management, and continuous improvement, safety is more likely to become engrained in the culture and is less likely to fall out of compliance as conditions and regulations change.

Furthermore, a company can focus on its core business while allowing the safety consultant to handle staffing and management and maintain records and files that otherwise could get scattered or not done at all. The result is the efficiency and cost savings of traditional outsourcing with the strategic advantage of proactive safety management, which means your company is always prepared.

How Investing in Safety Pays Off

Safety compliance isn’t something nice to have; it’s the law. As such, it’s often looked upon as a necessary cost center. However, the right approach can make safety a cost-effective investment. Rather than assuming a reactive posture and gambling on avoiding incidents, an investment in the right safety consulting approach can be net-positive over the long term because it can minimize or eliminate expenses associated with:

  • Medical costs
  • Insurance costs
  • Litigation costs
  • Unscheduled downtime
  • The intangible cost of a damaged reputation

Additionally, better morale and less churn from a workforce that appreciates the dedication to its safety enhances overall performance at worksites. Safety services delivery has modernized like other critical business functions, but companies still need to adjust their mindsets. Those that do will reap the benefits of simpler, more effective, and more cost-beneficial execution of EHS.

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