Health and safety is a top priority for any respectable business. Whether it’s the health and safety of their employees, customers or anyone else that interacts with their business – it’s of utmost importance to take reasonable measures to ensure no one comes to any harm. 

However, exactly what these measures are isn’t always clear for businesses. When this happens, they might turn to health and safety experts to provide them with guidance and tips. Safety consultants can help businesses keep their employees safe and limit their liabilities. 

So, if you’re thinking of starting your own safety consulting business, then you could be providing a valuable service to others. Before you begin offering your expert advice though, let’s take a look at how you can protect your own safety consulting business when you start it. 

What Is A Health And Safety Consultant?

A health and safety consultant is an expert that specialises in workplace occupational safety. They can help business’s identify potentially hazardous areas and provide advice in implementing strategies that can minimise these risks. Areas that a safety consultant may help with include: 

  • Emergency plans 
  • Investigation of incidents 
  • General risk assessment
  • Legal compliance of safety measures 
  • Workplace policies regarding safety 
  • Providing proper training to employees 

Some safety consultants choose to focus on just a few of these areas whereas others might like to offer a wider range of services. It all really depends on what is best for each business. If you’re thinking of starting your own safety consulting business, then it’s a good idea to think about the types of services you’ll be offering to your clients. 

How To Become A Safety Consultant 

Safety consulting isn’t an “officially” recognised job. That means, there’s no straightforward path to become a safety consultant, like there is for a lawyer or dentist. Instead, what qualifies you to become a safety consultant is your expertise and experience in the industry. 

Having the right background and awareness is the best way to make sure your knowledge is at ‘consulting level’. Remember, it’s important to have a strong grasp on safety concerns, strategies plus other factors like laws and regulations impacting what safety measures your clients will need to undertake. They’ll be relying on you for guidance, so it’s vital to make sure you know your stuff. 

How To Start A Safety Consulting Business

Once you’ve determined that a safety consulting business is the right venture for you, then it’s time to start the process of bringing your business to life. We’ve listed some of the key steps to start your safety consulting business – keep reading to know more. 

Plan Your Business

The first step to starting any kind of business is having a plan in place. Writing up a business plan never hurts, plus it’s a great way to make sure all your research and ideas are in one place. There’s no specific structure you need to follow for a business plan, though you might want to include things like market research, advertising strategies, future goals, legal considerations and your business’s potential strengths/weaknesses. 

Choose A Legal Structure

Next, you’ll need to think about the kind of legal structure your business will have. In Australia, most businesses choose to go with a company or a sole trader legal structure. They’re both vastly different with their respective disadvantages and advantages. It’s wise to know what each one is about before you jump into the registration process. 

Sole Trader

If you decide to start a sole trader business, you will be the one solely responsible for the business. Your safety consulting business will have no legal separation from you, so you will be personally liable for everything that happens with the business. A sole trader business is pretty easy to set up and requires little upkeep, however the downside to it is that it offers very little legal protection. Plus, if you’re looking to grow your safety consulting business in the future, then a sole trader legal structure can place some limitations on that. 

Company

For serious business endeavors, a company is the go to legal structure. However, a company has a more complex set up process. Once a company is set up though, it is considered to be a legal entity on its own. This means there is legal separation between you and your company, which can help limit your personal liability and offer you more legal protection. If you’re looking to expand your safety consulting business in the future, then setting up as a company from day one is recommended. 

Register Your Safety Consulting Business

After you have decided on the right kind of legal structure for your safety consulting business, it’s time to get it registered.

As we noted, the registration process for both a company and a sole trader are pretty different. 

Registering as a sole trader requires getting an Australian Business Number (ABN). To attain an ABN, you just need to go online to the Australian Business register and complete an application. You should receive your ABN shortly after. If you’re going to be using a name other than your personal one, then you will also need to Register A Business Name.  

If you ‘re planning on starting your business with a partner, then along with getting your individual ABN’s, it’s wise to start your partnership off with the right legal documentations, such as a Partnership Agreement

Registering your safety consultancy as a company, requires following the regulations set out  by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). You will need to sort out details like your company shareholders and directors, as well as matters like governance. It’s also important to keep in mind that your relationship with ASIC doesn’t end with registration, you’ll need to keep up with ongoing obligations to maintain your company. It’s best to have the help of a legal expert when Registering A Company, so they can walk you through it. 

What Legal Documents Does My Safety Consulting Business Need? 

When you’ve finished registering your safety consulting business, the next thing you’ll need to do is secure the legal agreements that will help protect it. The exact legal agreement you’re going to need will depend on your individual business however, we’ve listed a few that you might consider. 

Consultancy Agreement: A consultancy agreement is the contract you have with your clients. It addresses important matters like scope of work, obligations, key dates, payment and termination. Having a well drafted consultancy agreement in place can ensure both parties know what to expect from one another. 

Privacy Policy: By law, your business’s website is required to have a privacy policy if it collects any kind of data from its users or you have an annual turnover of more than $3 million. As a privacy policy is a legal requirement, it needs to meet a certain criteria. Getting a legal expert to draft your privacy policy is the best way to ensure you have a legally compliant document on your website. 

Website Terms and Conditions: Along with a privacy policy, it’s a wise idea to have terms and conditions on your website. Terms and conditions can help protect your website from the inevitable risks that come with operating on the web. A Web T&C’s can help limit your liability and establish controls, making it much easier to protect your safety consulting business. 

Employment Agreement: Thinking of hiring staff? It’s imperative to have a legal agreement in place first. This way, both parties can establish their rules and expectations so the relationship can be off to a good start, which is always better for the business. 

Our legal experts can help you gain a better understanding of what legal agreements you might need and how they’ll work – get in touch to know more. 

Next Steps 

Starting a safety consulting business is an exciting step! However, it’s important to take care of the legal considerations so you can protect your business. To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • Health and safety consulting can help ensure the well-being of employees, customers, and others associated with the business
  • Safety consultants specialise in workplace occupational safety, providing guidance on things like emergency plans, incident investigations, risk assessments, legal compliance, safety policies and employee training
  • To become a safety consultant your qualifications will depend on your expertise and experience in the industry, requiring a strong understanding of safety concerns, strategies, laws, and regulations
  • Starting a safety consulting business involves planning, choosing a legal structure (sole trader or company) and registering the business with the appropriate authorities 
  • Sole trader structures offer simplicity but limited legal protection, while setting up a company provides more protection but involves a more complex setup process
  • Registering a safety consulting business involves obtaining an Australian Business Number (ABN) for sole traders or following regulations set by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) for companies
  • Legal documents essential for a safety consulting business include a consultancy agreement with clients, a privacy policy for website compliance, website terms and conditions for liability protection and an employment agreement if hiring staff

If you would like a consultation on starting a safety consulting business, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or team@sprintlaw.com.au for a free, no-obligations chat.

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