Writing in the Jan/Feb 2013 edition of Safeguard, Bay of Plenty health & safety consultant Phil Sexton says the profession must put its ethical house in order. He cites the residential construction sector as being particularly vulnerable to safety consultants making dubious claims, such as “buy this glossy folder and ensure your compliance”. He says health and safety consultants often face ethical dilemmas, including having to decide what level of consultancy support they can provide without getting too close to the client, and thus compromising their independence. He also recalls the time there was an injury on a client’s site, and when he turned up the client told him it was a “freak accident” and that no one could have prevented it. Instant dilemma: the client has in effect stated his goal (the accident was unpreventable) but as a consultant he knows his investigation is unlikely to reach this conclusion. And yet he wishes to retain this client’s business.
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