Steve Main | Open Colleges
Steve Main

OHS Risk Management Consultant at Main and Associates

Steve Main

"Running an OHS consultancy is a very rewarding opportunity, due to the people you meet, places you visit, solving problems and the learning along the way."

Steve Main has more than 30 years' experience working in, managing, and consulting to small, medium, and large organisations in a wide range of industries. This experience and Steve's practical, open and honest approach supports businesses to reduce business risks, streamline organisational change, and achieve business objectives.

1 In a couple of short sentences, tell us about your career path and how it has evolved over time.

I have worked and been linked to the quarrying industry most of my life, from operating machines, holding supervisory roles to quarry management. I have been self-employed for 15 years consulting on business improvement, safety, business systems, and compliance. Mid-2000 I went back to university to study a Graduate Diploma in Occupational Hazard Management, this was one of the best career decisions I have made. This course enhanced my skills and brought me credibility as a qualified professional with industry experience.

2 What advice would you offer students looking to get into the workplace safety industry?

If you are working, whether it's part-time or full-time, express an interest in safety to your supervisor or manager. If safety is not prompted offer to take on an OHS representative role (the company will need to send you on an OHS course to start your journey) or just to promote safety in your workplace.

Find local businesses, offer them some support like an internship. This way you get to practice, create, and implement what you are learning. This also adds to your workplace experience and business network.

Contact an OHS consultancy and offer your time to build your skills. The benefit here is they have the experience to coach you, they work across multiple businesses and industries, and they may even offer you some paid work. Get a qualification. Never stop learning.

3 In your opinion, what makes an outstanding workplace safety professional?

Integrity - People want honesty.
Ability to listen - More than often the solution comes from the people within the business.
People skills - The ability to communicate at all levels is critical. The ability to collate information and then present the findings and a business case to influence all levels of the business is an important element in today's modern safety professional role.
Experience and qualifications - I think you need a wide range of experience linked to a qualification supports today's safety professional.

4 Is work experience and training important in the industry?

Yes, I believe that experience and training is critical, one by itself will limit your ability provide practical solutions and grow as a safety professional.

5 What's it like running an OHS risk management consultancy?

Running an OHS consultancy is a very rewarding opportunity, due to the people you meet, places you visit, solving problems and the learning along the way. If you have a vision to run your own consultancy at some point I suggest gaining as much practical experience as you can and ideally in multiple industries. Join a safety group or association and find a niche that you really enjoy.

6 What are the biggest challenges you face in your daily work and how do you overcome them?

Time management is always a challenge. Make a few dot points of things you must do each day and add a couple of things that would be good to do.

Solving problems in a new workplace: Be a good listener, ask lots of questions and provide a few options. Always be prepared to challenge your findings.

Work consistency: Small businesses can have the feast and famine syndrome, allocate a bit of time each week to organise new work and meet new people.

Cash flow: Get into a routine to invoice your work and chase up unpaid invoices. If it's a big job, ask for a deposit.

Quoting the work and getting the best balance: Time adds up quickly and sometimes you are not in control of onsite time management. People may not be available, there's no magic answer, just be aware of it. Consider a clause in your quote to factor the things that are out of your control. Ask lots of questions about the job you have been asked to quote on or do. Follow-up with an email with a few dot points just to clarify the works and ensure all parties are on the same page. At times everything appears urgent, it may not be.

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